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March cargo demand plunges in Asia-Pacific

By Hpanchal on April 26, 2012

Both cargo demand and capacity declined in the Asia-Pacific region last month, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines data revealed. Falling 4.5 percent and 4.1 percent, year-over-year, respectively, these losses are in line with the sluggish freight volumes witnessed throughout the area during the first quarter of 2012.

According to a press release, freight-tonnes carried in the Asia-Pacific dropped 4.1 percent, year-over-year, during the first three months of 2012. Capacity didn’t see as drastic of a decline during this period, however; it only fell 1.9 percent, year-over-year.

The opposite is true about cargo load factor. Although freight load factor transitioned from 69.5 percent to 69.3 percent, year-over-year, in March, the decline was more pronounced from a three-month perspective. Load factor fell from 66.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to 65.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said these numbers “reflect a soft market and lingering concerns over weakening consumer demand, particularly in Europe.”

Still, passenger volumes in the Asia-Pacific remained healthy, according to the press release. Carriers in this region transported 17.2 million passengers in March, a 10.6 percent, year-over-year, increase. Capacity also surged last month, growing 5.6 percent, year-over-year, and leading to a 2.7-percent increase in passenger load factor.

The discrepancy between passenger and cargo volumes contributed to Herdman’s cautious optimism about aviation in the Asia-Pacific. “The global macroeconomic outlook is still overshadowed by the potentially dampening effects of stubbornly high oil prices and poor growth prospects in Europe, but Asian economies are still delivering robust growth,” he said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, airline margins remain under pressure from high fuel costs, forcing attention on further efforts to tightly control costs and carefully match capacity to market demand,” Herdman added.

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