Asia Pacific cargo markets on recovery path, passenger demand depressed

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], January 6 (ANI): There is lack of progress in revival of international travel with demand still held back by ongoing border restrictions amid a resurgence in Covid-19 infections in various countries, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, air cargo markets are a silver lining for the region’s carriers, supported by recovery in global manufacturing activity.
Only 1.4 million international passengers were carried by Asia Pacific airlines in November, a mere 4.6 per cent of the 30.8 million recorded in the same month of 2019. Offered seat capacity was comparatively higher at 12.5 per cent of levels in the previous corresponding period.
Reflecting challenging operating conditions, the region’s carriers recorded an average international passenger load factor of just 30 per cent for the month, far below the 80 per cent achieved in November 2019.
International trade flows continued to rebound in November, buoyed by an acceleration in new export orders.
As a result, cargo volumes carried by the region’s airlines increased for the third consecutive month, although demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres was still down 11.3 per cent year-on-year.
Airlines increased capacity by deploying converted passenger aircraft and maximising dedicated freighter utilisation, helping to ease capacity shortages as reflected in the 6.7 percentage point increase in the international freight load factor to average 69.5 per cent for the month.
“While the recovery in global economic activity has broadened across sectors, international travel remains crippled by border closures affecting 60 per cent of Asia Pacific destinations,” said AAPA Director General Subhas Menon.
“The recent escalation in Covid-19 cases and emergence of variant strains have resulted in the re-imposition of stricter travel restrictions by several states.”
Menon said the near-term outlook for airline industry remains extremely challenging.
Governments need to move ahead with plans to implement harmonised testing protocols as a part of a multi-layered and risk-based approach towards safely restoring air travel, at the same time as vaccinations are rolled out across the world, he added. (ANI)

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