Despite months of decreased demand, cargo volumes in the Asia-Pacific surged 7.8 percent, year-over-year, in February, according to a press release issued by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines. Freight capacity in this region also grew in February, increasing 6 percent, year-over-year, the AAPA revealed. Cargo load factor totaled 66.1 percent.
The 7.8-percent volume increase is somewhat misleading, however. AAPA officials attribute this year-over-year improvement to the fact that the Chinese New Year fell during the first week of February in 2011.
In fact, AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman explained, 2012 has been nothing short of challenging for Asian-Pacific freight carriers. January was especially problematic for regional airlines, according to an AAPA press release, highlighted by a 13.7 percent, year-over-year, decline international demand; capacity reduction measures in January couldn’t offset this staggering loss.
Combined, Asia-Pacific freight carriers “recorded a 4.3-percent decline in international freight traffic for the first two months of the year,” Herdman said, which reflects “a continued weakness in airfreight markets, where surplus capacity has also been putting downward pressure on shipping rates.”
Even so, passenger volumes have been rising steadily in the Asia-Pacific. Traffic increased 4.8 percent, year-over-year, in February, with Asia-Pacific airlines carrying 15.4 million passengers. Load factor slid slightly, however, falling 0.7 percent, year-over-year, amid a 6.1 percent, year-over-year, capacity increase.
Although these volumes appear healthy, Herdman is cautiously optimistic about the duration of 2012. “The outlook for the aviation industry remains challenging, with oil averaging $118 per barrel so far this year, which could act as a brake on prospects for the global economy, given the fragility of the recent recovery,” he said in a statement.