Preliminary March traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) continued to show a pattern of robust passenger demand but a weak air cargo market.
Asia Pacific mainline carriers carried a combined total of 17.2 million international passengers in March, 10.6% more than in the same month last year. The AAPA says this was "supported by an improvement in business travel markets."
Airlines based in the International passenger demand, as measured in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms, grew by 9.4%, whilst available seat capacity expanded by 5.6%, resulting in a 2.7 percentage point increase in the average international passenger load factor to 76.8%.
In contrast, international air cargo demand, in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms, declined by 4.5% compared to the same month last year, a reflection of lacklustre export-import markets. Offered freight capacity contracted by 4.1%, resulting in a marginal 0.2 percentage point fall in the average international air cargo load factor for the region’s carriers to 69.3% for the month.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “We’re seeing sustained growth in passenger demand, with Asian airlines carrying 7.6% more international passengers in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, underpinned by robust demand in the Asia Pacific region, and an improving US economy. On the other hand, international air cargo traffic for the first quarter fell by 4.1% year-on-year, reflecting a soft market and lingering concerns over weakening consumer demand, particularly in Europe.”
He added, “The global macro-economic outlook is still overshadowed by the potentially dampening effects of stubbornly high oil prices, and poor growth prospects in Europe, but Asian economies are still delivering robust growth. Nevertheless, airline margins remain under pressure from high fuel costs, focusing attention on further efforts to tightly control costs and carefully match capacity to market demand.”