Preliminary traffic figures from the Association
of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) for the month of March 2019 show
growth in international air passenger markets, whilst air cargo
markets contracted for the fifth consecutive month against a
backdrop of continued weakness in trade activity.
The region's airlines carried an aggregate total
of 31.7 million international passengers in March, a 3.4%
year-on-year increase on top of the double-digit growth recorded
in the same month last year. In revenue passenger kilometre (RPK)
terms, demand grew by 2.4% whilst available seat capacity expanded
by 4.2%, leading to a 1.4 percentage point decline in the average
international passenger load factor to 80.0% for the month.
Air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne
kilometres (FTK) declined by 3.2% in March compared to the same
month last year, with the ongoing weakness in demand for
intermediate goods and corresponding fall in new business orders
affecting air cargo shipments. Offered freight capacity increased
by 1.1%, resulting in a 2.8 percentage point decline in the
average international freight load factor to 62.4% for the month.
AAPA Director General said, "During the first quarter of the year,
the number of international passengers carried by the region's
airlines grew by 5.3% to a combined total of 93 million.
Intra-regional and inter-regional markets remained relatively
robust, supported by continued growth in both business and leisure
travel markets. On the other hand, air cargo demand fell by 5.6%
during the same period, reflecting cautious market sentiment
linked to unresolved trade tensions, particularly between the
United States and China."
Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman said, "Prospects for
air travel markets remain positive, on expectations of continued
moderate growth in the global economy. The ongoing shift towards
air cargo for e-commerce shipments of consumer goods should
provide some level of support to air cargo demand, although
prevailing conditions remain weak ... Having faced increasing
headwinds to operating conditions, many of the region's carriers
saw a deterioration in earnings performance last year. Higher fuel
and labour costs led to a squeeze in margins, despite continued
growth in demand and some improvements to airline yields. Overall,
Asia Pacific carriers continue to respond to an intensely
competitive marketplace, actively implementing strategic
initiatives and pursuing avenues for growth to sustain