Asian air cargo market further weakens

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Preliminary traffic figures for the month of August released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) recorded moderate growth in international air passenger markets, in contrast with further reductions in air cargo demand against a backdrop of diminishing business confidence levels and significant declines in international trade volumes.

Overall, Asia Pacific airlines carried a combined 32.6 million international passengers in August, 2.3% more than the same month last year. In revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) terms, demand grew by 3.1% year-on-year. The average international passenger load factor eased 0.2 percentage points lower to 82.8% for the month, after accounting for a 3.4% expansion in available seat capacity.

In contrast to air passenger markets, air cargo demand in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) fell by 6.4% year-on-year in August. Subdued demand conditions, with businesses remaining cautious on their inventories, contributed to the persistent weakness. Combined with a 1.1% increase in offered freight capacity, the average international freight load factor fell by 4.7 percentage points to 58.3% for the month.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “The first eight months of the year saw Asian airlines carry a combined 251 million international passengers, representing a sustained 4.3 % increase in demand for international air travel, but growth rates are moderating as consumers become more cautious about the economic outlook.”

“Meanwhile, air cargo demand declined by 5.9% during the first eight months of the year, with business confidence deteriorating further in August against a backdrop of heightened global trade tensions. Consumer goods markets continued to expand, but demand for intermediate goods fell further, contributing to the decline in air shipments.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman said, “Whilst the long term outlook for air travel remains broadly positive, Asian airlines continue to face a challenging business environment.”