AAPA: Recovery in passenger traffic continues as air cargo markets slide further

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Preliminary July 2022 traffic figures released today (25 August) by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed the strong recovery in international air passenger markets continued unabated.

The region’s airlines flew a combined total of 11.3 million international passengers in July, surpassing the 10 million mark for the first time since February 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a collapse in global travel markets. The average international passenger load factor reached a pandemic high of 80 percent for the month, as demand measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) rose by 546.7 percent year-on-year, significantly outpacing the 157.3 percent expansion in available seat capacity.

By contrast, air cargo markets weakened further, set against a backdrop of falling export orders alongside worsening business and consumer confidence levels. For the month, international air cargo demand in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) dropped markedly, by 11.6 percent year-on-year, while freight capacity offered held relatively steady, edging just 0.4 percent lower. As a result, the average international freight load factor declined by 8.6 percentage points to 67.8 percent for the month.

Subhas Menon, director general of AAPA.

“Growth in travel markets continued to accelerate in July, bringing the total number of international passengers carried to 43 million in the first seven months of the year, almost five-fold more than the 9 million recorded during the same period in 2019,” said Subhas Menon, AAPA’s director general. “However, full recovery remains a long way off, with traffic in July averaging only 34% of the corresponding pre-pandemic month. Meanwhile, prevailing supply chain disruptions, inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions further dampened demand for air shipments. Nevertheless, the robust recovery in passenger travel is supporting the industry’s return to profitability, even though cost pressures abound.”

Looking ahead, Menon said, “Overall, 2022 looks to be a better year by far, although there will be bumps in the road to recovery. Immediate challenges include operational constraints resulting from manpower shortages, in addition to rising costs amid a distinct slowdown in global economic growth. To further enhance the industry’s resilience, AAPA continues to urge stakeholders to work closely with the aim of expanding smooth, safe and sustainable air connectivity, given the significant contribution of air transport to economic growth and social development.”

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