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Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Reports September 2009 Traffic

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Preliminary figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) show that member airlines carried a total of 10.8 million international passengers in September 2009, effectively matching the numbers carried in the same month last year for the first time in over twelve months.

 International passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) was 0.9% lower in September, but also marked a significant improvement compared to the steep monthly declines recorded over the past year. The encouraging traffic results were achieved despite a 6.1% reduction in seating capacity, pushing the average international passenger load factor 4.1 percentage points higher, to 76.4% for the month.

AAPA international air cargo traffic also continued its slow recovery. Although September traffic, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTK), was still 6.5% below the levels of a year ago, this is the smallest shortfall so far this year. The average AAPA international cargo load factor in September rose by 3.4 percentage points to 68.7% for the month, as carriers cut capacity by 11.2%.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, The September traffic figures offer some encouragement amidst signs of a continuing pickup in consumer confidence and economic activity, led by the Asia Pacific region. Nevertheless, airlines are still facing significant challenges. For the first nine months of the year, our overall international passenger numbers were 9% down compared to last year, whilst international air cargo traffic registered an 18% decline over the same period. Shrinking traffic volumes, coupled with lower yields, led to sharply lower revenues and heavy losses for most carriers. Despite capacity cutbacks, and other cost reduction efforts, airlines are still struggling to restore profitability. Meanwhile, rising oil prices are driving up costs, and will act as a brake on the wider economy. Overall, as things stand now, the recovery still looks quite fragile.

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