Preliminary traffic figures of October, 2015, released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) revealed encouraging growth in international air passenger demand, whilst soft air cargo market conditions persisted.
The region’s airlines registered a 6.5 per cent growth in the number of international passengers carried compared to the same month last year, bringing the month’s total to 23.2 million. Reflecting the relative strength of long haul markets, demand in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms increased by 8.7 per cent, out-pacing the 6.4 per cent expansion in available seat capacity to result in a 1.6 per cent increase in the average international passenger load factor to 76.9 per cent for the month.
Demand for air cargo shipments fell slightly in October, on the back of continued weakness in export-import activities in major regional economies, including China, India and Japan. Measured in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms, air cargo demand edged 0.7 per cent lower from the same month last year. The average international freight load factor fell further, registering a 2.2 percentage point contraction to 64.2 per cent for the month after accounting for a 2.7 per cent increase in offered freight capacity.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general said, “Robust demand for leisure related travel boosted air passenger markets in October. However, premium travel demand is beginning to show some signs of moderation, possibly a reflection of the slowdown in emerging market economies. Overall, Asian airlines carried 229 million international passengers during the first ten months of the year, 8.2 per cent more than in the same period last year.”
“For the January-October period, air cargo demand grew by 2.2 per cent, held back by lacklustre global trade conditions that continue to dampen Asian air cargo markets”, he added.
Herdman concluded, “We are seeing continuing robust growth in passenger demand, boosted by the prevalence of competitively priced travel options as a result of lower oil prices. The challenge for Asian carriers is how to capture that growth in passenger demand in a highly competitive market, whilst achieving improvements in still thin margins. On the other hand, air cargo markets are expected to remain soft, given weak global trade conditions.”