Preliminary traffic figures for the month of May released last month by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed solid expansion in international air passenger markets and robust growth in international air cargo demand, reflecting positive business and consumer sentiment across advanced and emerging market economies.
In May, the region’s airlines carried a combined total of 25.2 million international passengers, 5.4% more than in the same month last year. Measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), demand grew by 9.4%, reflecting the strength of demand in long haul travel markets. The average international passenger load factor increased by 2.2 percentage points to 77.4% for the month, after accounting for a 6.4% expansion in available seat capacity. Trade activity remained buoyant in May, with Asian carriers seeing international air cargo demand, as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), registering a solid 12.2% increase compared to the same month last year.
The average international freight load factor also rose significantly, by 4.7 percentage points to 65.6%, following a comparatively modest 4.3% expansion in offered freight capacity.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “During the first five months of the year, the number of international passengers carried by Asia Pacific airlines increased by 5.8% to an aggregate total of 129 million. The same period saw a strong 10.5% increase in international air cargo demand.”
Mr. Herdman added, “The ongoing pick-up in the global economy, accompanied by increased consumer and investment spending has provided a boost to both international air passenger and air cargo markets. Asian carriers are major players in the global air cargo market, and continue to benefit from the upswing in trade growth.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman continued, “The outlook for both air passenger and air cargo markets remains positive, supported by broad-based expansion across sectors. However, airline profitability remains constrained by competitive yield pressures and higher operating costs. Fuel prices, in particular, have risen by 38% to average US$53 per barrel during the first five months of the year. Given the still challenging operating environment, airlines remain focused on disciplined cost management efforts throughout the business, whilst pursuing further growth opportunities.”***