Preliminary traffic figures for March released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) show further growth in international air passenger demand, coupled with persistent weakness on the air cargo market.
A total of 24.4m international passengers were carried by Asia Pacific airlines in March, 4.5% more than in the same month last year. In revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms, international passenger demand registered a corresponding 4.7% growth. Combined with the 6.7% expansion in available seat capacity, the average international passenger load factor fell by 1.5 percentage points to 77.4% for the month.
Meanwhile, air freight volumes for Asian airlines registered a decline of 5.3% despite a pick-up in Chinese exports following the Lunar New Year factory closures. Freight load factors for the region’s carriers remained under pressure, with the average international freight load factor registering a 5.2 percentage point decline to 62.9%, after accounting for a 2.6% expansion in available freight capacity.
For the first quarter of the year, Asia Pacific airlines saw international passenger numbers increase by 7.5% to an aggregate total of 72.8 million. RPKs were up 8.3%, more than the 7.9% increase in available capacity, leading to a marginal load factor improvement (+0.2pp).
However, international air cargo demand remained soft, with volumes (FTKs) declining by 6.5% compared to the same period a year ago, reflecting the general slowdown in global trade. Available capacity rose 2.1%, resulting in a 5.4pp decline in freight load factor.