AAPA: Industry struggling to survive with demand suppressed and very few open borders

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Airlines around the world, including Cathay, had to ground thousands of planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)
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Preliminary September 2020 traffic figures released Wednesday (28 October) by the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed that both international passenger and cargo demand is at markedly depressed levels, with no sign of recovery in sight. The 1.1 million international passengers that flew on Asia-Pacific airlines in September was just 3.6 percent of the 30 million that travelled in September 2019. Offered seat capacity was a little higher at 11 percent of last year’s level. The international passenger load factor was a lowly 31.7 percent.

While manufacturing conditions further improved globally, some Asian economies continue to face weakness in exports. International air cargo demand, as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), fell by 17.5 percent year-on-year in September. Offered freight capacity declined by 29.9 percent, leading to a 10.6 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor, to 70.6 percent for the month.

Commenting on the results, AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said, “airlines are struggling to survive as international air travel remains severely curtailed by onerous travel restrictions. Without recapitalisation or fund injections, several of the region’s carriers face an existential threat. Thousands of aviation jobs are already lost, with more at risk.

“While the establishment of green lanes and travel bubbles in the region is a positive first step, their disparate and restrictive requirements make it difficult for these to take off meaningfully. It is critical that governments implement consistent and coordinated measures based on objective risk assessment to help restore confidence in air travel. The Association remains committed to working with governments and industry stakeholders to safely restart international air travel as a matter of urgency.”

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