AAPA: Passenger demand robust while weakness in cargo markets persists

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Preliminary September 2022 traffic figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed international passenger demand sustained its strong upward momentum despite a worsening global economic outlook. The significant easing of border restrictions across most of the region’s economies continued to unleash a robust return of business and leisure travellers.

In September, the number of international passengers carried by the region’s airlines surged to 11.7 million, from the 1.4 million registered in the previous corresponding period, bringing volumes to average 39% of the same month in 2019. Demand in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) terms increased by 575.1% year-on-year, reflecting the strength of regional travel markets. After accounting for a 189.6% expansion in available seat capacity, the average international passenger load factor jumped by 44.6 percentage points to 78.0% for the month, just 0.6 percentage points shy of corresponding pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

International air cargo markets remained under pressure, as export activity was hampered by depressed business and consumer confidence levels amid a deterioration in global macroeconomic conditions. As a result, international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) recorded a double-digit decline of 10.4% year-on-year in September. Meanwhile, offered freight capacity continued to expand, by 5.9% for the month, leading to a 11.6 percentage point fall in the average international freight load factor to 64.0%.

“Asian airlines are seeing encouraging recovery in international travel demand and achieving load factors close to pre-pandemic levels. Overall, the number of international passengers carried grew by 448.7% during the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period in 2021,” said Subhas Menon, AAPA director general. “On the other hand, a 4.4% decline in air cargo demand was registered in the same period. The outlook for the cargo market remains subdued in the near term. Overall, the region’s airlines continue to face a challenging operating environment, with operating costs under pressure as a result of high fuel prices and weak local currencies. The resilience of the industry is shining through. The healthy upswing in passenger markets this year provides an encouraging backdrop to the 66th AAPA Assembly of Presidents meeting in Bangkok, where Asia Pacific airlines’ leaders will meet in person for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Topics to be discussed include sustainability, the state of the industry, future growth opportunities and various regulatory challenges.”


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