Asia Pacific airlines make gains in May

KUALA LUMPUR 30 June 2022: International air passenger demand strengthened amidst the lifting of travel restrictions that unleashed a robust return of travellers, according to preliminary May 2022 traffic figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

During May, international passengers carried by Asia Pacific airlines increased more than five-fold to a combined 7.3 million, with demand rising to 23.6% of volumes recorded in May 2019. The jump in demand, combined with a relatively more moderate 114.8% expansion in available seat capacity, led to a significant 43.7% increase in the average international passenger load factor to 71.5% for the month, narrowing the gap to levels achieved before the pandemic brought international travel to a standstill.

By contrast, prevailing supply chain disruptions and slowing demand further stymied global trade activity. It led to a 5.6% year-on-year decline in international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne-kilometres (FTK) in May.

Meanwhile, offered freight capacity expanded by 1.0% year-on-year compared to the same month last year, with a consequent 4.8 percentage point decline in the international freight load factor to an average of 69.4% for the month.

AAPA director general Subhas Menon commented on the results: “The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the world in many ways. Yet, what hasn’t changed is people’s desire to travel, as evidenced by the strong uplift in international travel upon the lifting of border control measures across the region.”

Menon added, “On the other hand, after a buoyant 2021, air cargo demand is facing some headwinds with export orders facing downward pressures, driven by waning business confidence levels amid an increasingly cloudy global economic outlook.”

“As the region’s airlines emerge from the deepest and most prolonged crisis ever faced, keeping a lid on costs remains vital, as escalating fuel expenditure, higher labour and maintenance costs, on top of substantially heavier debt burdens, threaten to undermine the already fragile financial recovery,” Menon explained. “ In addition, airlines face increasing operational constraints as the air transport eco-system strives to keep up with the ramp-up in demand.”

But he concluded there was good cause for optimism as the region’s airlines “continue to streamline operations while investing in improving the travel experience as part of ongoing efforts to achieve a sustainable and technology-enabled future for air transport.”

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