Another depressing traffic report from AAPA

Passenger and cargo markets continue to recede in the face of COVID-19 border closures

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Airlines in Asia and around the world have shut down operations and grounded thousands of planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneThe Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) continued its string of depressing traffic reports on Thursday (24 September) when it said that preliminary August 2020 traffic figures “stayed severely depressed as a result of ongoing border restrictions (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), with little indication of recovery in sight for the remainder of the year unless coordinated actions are taken to restore global connectivity”.

Asia-Pacific airlines carried only 1 million international passengers in August, or just 3 percent of the 34 million passengers carried in the same month of 2019. Offered seat capacity was relatively higher at 9.6 percent of the levels operated last year. The average international passenger load factor was 35.8 percent for the month. International air cargo demand in August, as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), registered a 19.3 percent decline year-on-year, reflecting the ongoing weakness of global trade flows. Freighter operations remained active but significant cuts in the numbers of passenger flights led to a 33.4 percent year-on-year overall decline in offered freight capacity. As a result, the average international freight load factor increased by 12.3 percentage points to 70.6 percent for the month.

Empty check-in counters at Singapore’s Changi Airport on 12 August. The airport has shut down two terminals and halted construction on a new one. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said “there is no international air travel market to speak of, as the border restrictions severely inhibit international air travel. Abrupt re-impositions of border closures by some countries due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases have further shrunk passenger demand. Travellers, airlines and airports are struggling to make sense of the patchy, sweeping and unharmonised approaches to border regulations being imposed by various countries. The latest traffic results underscore the need for governments to review existing restrictions and implement harmonised protocols based on objective risk assessments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has virtually shut down international aviation. Normally bustling Changi Airport in Singapore was quiet on 12 August. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

“Uncoordinated measures and abrupt changes to protocols only serve to diminish travel confidence, with wider repercussions that impact consumers and businesses far beyond the aviation industry,” Menon said. “AAPA calls for an urgent review of border closures and blanket quarantine requirements, particularly for travel between countries where the prevalence of the virus is low and contained. A more coherent and evidence-based approach to cross border measures and processes, including testing and quarantine, would pave the way to restore global mobility in a safe and sensible way. The Association remains committed to working with governments and industry stakeholders to safely reopen international travel corridors in line with evolving ICAO CART recommendations.”

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