Preliminary traffic figures for May from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed continued growth in international air passenger traffic, but international air cargo demand remained soft.
AAPA airlines carried 16.6 million international passengers, an increase of 8.9% year-on-year. International revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) grew by 7.0%. Growth in available seat capacity matched the increase in traffic demand, resulting in an average international passenger load factor of 73.7% for the month.
Weakness in global air cargo markets persisted, as reflected in a 5.3% decline in international air cargo traffic, in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms. The average international air cargo load factor for Asia Pacific carriers fell by 1.6 percentage points to 66.6% for the month, based on a 3.0% contraction in offered freight capacity.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general said, “During the first five months of the year, we have seen a relatively robust 8.7% growth in the number of international passengers carried by Asian airlines, reflecting positive consumer confidence, despite lingering concerns over the fragility of the global economic recovery.”
“On the other hand, air cargo markets remained weak amidst real concerns about the eurozone, and further evidence of slowing growth, spreading to the major developing economies. Air cargo traffic carried by Asian airlines declined by 5.0% in the first five months of this year. It is worth reflecting on the fact that global air cargo volumes are stuck at levels first seen five years ago, before the global recession.”
Looking ahead, Herdman said, “The positive trend in passenger demand growth has been encouraging, and oil prices have moderated somewhat from a peak. Nevertheless, Asian carriers are still braced for a challenging second half of 2012, in view of widespread competitive pressures, the continued weakness in air cargo markets, and unresolved concerns over the outlook for the global economy.”