Preliminary August traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed continued expansion of air passenger markets and encouraging growth in air freight demand.
Underpinned by an improvement in global business conditions and sustained regional economic growth, the region's airlines carried an aggregate total of 23.0 million international passengers in August, 3.4% more than the same month last year. Demand in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms grew by 4.2%, underscoring the relative strength of regional related travel. However, the average international passenger load factor continued to decline, recording a 1.6 percentage point fall to 80.7% for the month, after accounting for a 6.1% increase in available seat capacity.
Buoyed by an increase in air shipments of electronic consumer products, Asia Pacific airlines registered a 6.2% increase in air freight demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) in August. Offered freight capacity grew by a comparatively slower 3.2%, resulting in a 1.8 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor to 63.5%.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, "Asia Pacific airlines carried a combined total of 168 million international passengers during the first eight months of this year, a 4.5% growth compared to the same period last year. Over the same period, Asian airlines registered an encouraging 5.1% increase in air cargo demand, with trade activities strengthening on the back of an improvement in China's economy and an increase in exports to the US and Japan."
Herdman added, "Overall, for Asian airlines, the demand outlook for both air passenger and freight markets remains positive, sustained by regional economic growth and continued improvement in the global economy. Nevertheless, the region's carriers are still facing very challenging business conditions, as surplus capacity and an intensely competitive pricing environment have constrained revenue growth and led to further erosion of margins. Airlines are carefully reviewing their fleet and network development plans, whilst maintaining a tight rein on costs in a bid to restore profitability and sustain further investments for the future."