The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) released preliminary figures for November that show continued expansion in international passenger traffic and a slight improvement in air cargo demand.
Overall, airlines based in the Asia Pacific region carried a combined total of 17 million international passengers in November, an increase of 8.4 percent compared to the same month last year, supported by healthy demand on regional routes, AAPA said. In revenue passenger kilometer (RPK) terms, international passenger traffic grew by 7.9 percent, while available seat capacity expanded by a slower 3.5 percent, resulting in a 3.1 percentage point increase in the average international passenger load factor to 76.7 percent for the month.
International air cargo demand, as measured in freight tonne kilometer (FTK) terms, was 0.9 percent above the levels of November last year, a slight improvement on the weaker trend so far this year. Combined with a 1.9 percent decline in offered freight capacity, the average international air cargo load factor was 1.8 percentage points higher, at 67.7 percent.
“Overall, during the first eleven months of the year, Asia Pacific carriers saw a healthy 7.1 percent increase in international passenger numbers,” said Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general. “On the other hand, the air cargo market has had another disappointing year, with international freight traffic down a cumulative 3.6 percent on last year’s levels, reflecting weak demand for Asian exports to the major developed markets, particularly Europe.”
Herdman said Asian carriers saw some encouraging growth in passenger demand during 2012, but the weak air cargo market held back overall revenue growth. High fuel prices kept pressure on already thin operating margins, he said.
“Airlines responded by accelerating the deployment of newer more fuel-efficient aircraft, and carefully managing capacity to match changing demand patterns,” Herdman said. “Despite uncertainty over the global economic outlook, Asian airlines are continuing to invest for the future, including both fleet development and customer service innovation.”