Preliminary traffic figures for the month of February released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed strong growth in international passenger traffic whereas demand for air cargo fell sharply due to the later timing of the Chinese New Year holiday period this year.
In aggregate, Asia Pacific airlines carried a combined total of 17.1 million international passengers in February, up 9.3% compared to the same month last year, reflecting strong demand on regional routes. In revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms, international passenger traffic grew by a more modest 6.4%.
The average international passenger load factor increased by 2 percentage points to 77.5%, on the back of a 3.6% expansion in available seat capacity.
Conversely, international air cargo demand, measured in freight tonne kilometre terms (FTK), fell by 13.2% compared to the same month last year, due to factory closures during the Chinese New Year festive period. Offered freight capacity declined by 8.8%, whilst the average international air cargo load factor was down 3.2 percentage points to 63.2% for the month.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “The results for the first two months of the year were distorted by the difference in timing of the Chinese New Year holidays. Taken together, for the first two months of the year we saw a 4.6% increase in international passenger numbers, but a 4.3% decline in international air cargo demand, marking a continuation of the same general trends we saw over the past year.”
Mr Herdman added, “Looking ahead, the ongoing recovery in the global economy should continue to drive further growth in passenger demand. At the same time, we remain hopeful that air freight demand will begin to pick up sometime this year, although surplus freighter capacity means that competitive pressures on rates are likely to persist.”