AAPA data show regional traffic still depressed

International passenger travel remains stalled by border closures and travel restrictions

APAS Aircraft Storage Alice Springs
(PHOTO: Steve Strike/Outback Photographics)

Use this onePreliminary July 2020 traffic figures released Thursday (27 August) by the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed that international passenger demand has been almost completely suppressed since April 2020, as a result of ongoing border closures and other onerous forms of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Asia-Pacific airlines carried only 844,000 international passengers in July 2020, representing levels of less than 3 percent of the 33.4 million passengers carried in July 2019. Offered seat capacity was at 8.3 percent of the levels operated last year, resulting in a low 33.2 percent average international passenger load factor for the month.

Asian airlines saw relatively stable demand for international air cargo shipments, AAPA said, although traffic measured in freight tonne kilometre terms (FTK) was still 16 percent below the levels seen in the same month last year. The average international freight load factor was 10.4 percentage points higher at 69.7 percent for the month, reflecting the sharp reduction in belly-hold cargo capacity following the grounding of most international passenger service operations.

A little more than six months ago Changi Airport in Singapore was full of passengers. Now a lone student waits to say goodbye to a friend in a nearly deserted departure hall. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said “international border closures affecting more than 50 percent of destinations worldwide, and other forms of onerous travel restrictions, continue to cripple international travel. Prospects for a more substantive recovery of the aviation industry are stalled as a result, severely impacting the wider travel and tourism sector. It is critical that governments act urgently to review existing restrictions and prepare for the safe reopening of borders, implementing appropriate risk management protocols in line with ICAO CART recommendations. It is noteworthy that several states and industry bodies are evaluating various COVID-19 testing regimes that could facilitate international air travel without the imposition of blanket quarantine requirements. AAPA remains committed to exploring further pragmatic initiatives with governments and other relevant stakeholders, to progressively reopen international air travel corridors in a safe and secure manner.”

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