Asia Pacific Airlines Carried 316.8 Million
International Passengers in 2017; Up 6.2%
Preliminary traffic figures from the Association
of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) for the full calendar year 2017 show that both international air
passenger and air cargo markets enjoyed robust growth, underpinned
by an acceleration in economic activity across most regions.
Supported by elevated business and consumer
confidence levels, the region's airlines carried a combined total
of 316.8 million international passengers for the year, a solid
6.2% increase compared to 2016. Demand as measured in revenue
passenger kilometres (RPK) increased by 8.2%, reflecting relative
strength on long haul routes. Meanwhile, traffic demand within the
region remained encouraging, supported by sustained regional
economic growth. The average international passenger load factor
rose by 1.2 percentage points to reach 79.9% for the year, after
accounting for a 6.6% expansion in available seat capacity.
Broad based expansions in new orders
precipitated by greater client demand helped boost trade activity
significantly, following years of tepid performance.
Correspondingly, international air cargo demand for the region's
airlines registered its fastest full year growth since the
post-crisis rebound in 2010. In freight tonne kilometres (FTK)
terms, demand rebounded with a strong 9.8% growth for the year,
following a modest increase in 2016. Growth in demand outpaced the
4.4% expansion in offered freight capacity by a considerable
margin, lifting the average international freight load factor by
3.2 percentage points to 65.2% for the year.
Mr. Andrew Herdman,
AAPA Director General, said, "Whilst competition remained intense,
continued availability of affordable air fares and further
expansion of routes, amid a positive global economic environment,
culminated in a year of firm traffic growth for air passenger
markets. In addition, Asian airlines enjoyed solid increases in
air cargo volumes through the year, with continued improvements in
business conditions boosting trade activity as demand was
transmitted through regional supply chains. Overall, the region's carriers in 2017
benefitted from the robust growth in demand, at the same time,
notably higher load factors provided some relief to airline
yields. However, increased cost pressures, particularly
significantly higher jet fuel prices, in addition to continued
market competition, constrained margins."
Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman concluded, "The
outlook for the year ahead is broadly positive, as the increase in
new orders and recent pick-up in business investments are expected
to enhance the sustainability of the global economic upswing. This
will in turn lend support to air travel demand in the coming
months. Nevertheless, market conditions remain highly competitive.
As such, airlines are consistently pursuing new sources of
additional revenue whilst keeping a tight rein on costs, to
support ongoing investments in future growth opportunities."