Preliminary traffic figures for the month of April released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed further growth in international air passenger numbers, but international air cargo markets remained weak.
Airlines based in the Asia Pacific region carried 17.2 million international passengers in April, a 12.2% increase compared to the same month last year. In revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms, international passenger demand grew by 10.1%, reflecting significantly stronger demand on regional routes. With traffic growth outpacing an 8.5% increase in available seat capacity, the average international passenger load factor was 76.3%, 1.1 percentage points higher than in the same month last year.
Conversely, international air cargo traffic, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), registered a 7.6% decline compared to the same month last year, reflecting continued weakness in demand. Even with a 4.8% reduction in offered freight capacity, the average international air cargo load factor fell by 2.0 percentage points, to 66.3% for the month.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “The first four months of this year saw a solid 8.7% increase in the number of international passengers carried by Asian airlines, led by robust growth on short haul regional routes.”
“However, international air freight markets remain depressed, with Asian airlines recording an overall 4.8% decline in cargo traffic for the first four months of the year, exerting further downward pressure on rates, despite reductions in offered freight capacity."
Herdman added, “We're still seeing welcome growth in passenger demand, but airline profit margins have suffered as a result of the weak cargo market, and the impact of stubbornly high oil prices. Although key Asian economies are still performing relatively well, the operating environment remains challenging, clouded by uncertainties over prospects for the global economy.”