Preliminary traffic figures for the month of November released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed sustained growth in international air passenger markets, underpinned by continued strength in the global services sectors. Air cargo volumes remained relatively high but demand growth was almost flat for the month.
The region’s airlines carried a combined total of 29.0 million international passengers in November 2018, representing a 6.2 per cent increase compared to the same month last year. Measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) terms, demand increased by 6.5 per cent, reflecting relative strength on long haul markets. Available seat capacity expanded by 6.0 per cent, resulting in a slight increase in the average international passenger load factor, by 0.3 percentage points to 79.3 per cent for the month.
International air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) edged 0.1 per cent higher in November, just matching the strong demand recorded during the same month in the previous year. Offered freight capacity increased by 5.9 per cent leading to a 3.8 percentage point decline in the average international freight load factor to 65.2 per cent.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “Business and leisure travel markets continued to expand at an encouraging pace for the region’s airlines, on the back of continued global economic expansion and rising regional living standards. Overall, for the first eleven months of the year, Asian airlines registered a healthy 7.1 per cent increase in the number of international passengers carried to an aggregate total of 325 million.”
“Meanwhile, the moderation in export activity with slowing business orders, contributed to the slowdown in air cargo growth for the month, although this was mitigated by higher volumes of e-commerce shipments going into the end-year festive season. Overall, the region’s airlines recorded a cumulative 4.3 per cent increase in air cargo demand during the first eleven months of the year, a reasonably solid growth rate following the exceptionally strong 9.6 per cent annual increase recorded in 2017.”
Looking ahead, Herdman said, “Overall prospects remain relatively positive. Continued moderate growth in the global economy and lowered oil prices should support further expansion in air travel demand and air cargo markets in the coming year, although the recent deterioration in trade sentiment and uncertainties over the potential impact on consumer confidence levels present some downside risks. Overall, Asian airlines continue to exercise vigilance in monitoring any changes in market conditions, whilst seeking growth opportunities.”