Moderate growth in air passenger markets and weak air cargo demand

Preliminary traffic figures for the month of September released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed continued moderate growth in international air passenger numbers, whilst air cargo demand declined reflecting stagnant international trade activity.

The region’s airlines carried 29.1 million international passengers in September, an increase of 3.0% compared to the same month last year. Measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), demand grew by 3.4% whilst available seat capacity expanded by 4.4%, leading to a 0.7 percentage point decline in the average international passenger load factor to 78.6% for the month.

Meanwhile, international air cargo traffic in freight tonne kilometres terms (FTK) fell by 6.5% year-on-year in September on the back of continued weakness in external demand. Combined with the marginal 0.3% decline in offered freight capacity, the average international freight load factor dropped by 4.0 percentage points to 60.4% for the month.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “During the first nine months of the year, Asian airlines in aggregate carried 281 million international passengers, 4.3% more than the same period last year. The moderation in growth, compared to the higher rates sustained over recent years, reflects an increasingly challenging economic environment.”

“Meanwhile, unresolved trade frictions have undermined business confidence and disrupted global supply chains.  Asian airlines saw overall demand for air cargo fall by 5.8% during the first nine months of the year, with the outlook remaining subdued in the near term.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman said, “Operating conditions are challenging for Asian carriers, which face intense competitive pressures against a backdrop of moderating economic sentiment. Nevertheless, airlines are carefully managing capacity expansion, exercising cost discipline, and streamlining operations in a bid to maintain profitability.”