According to data from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), preliminary traffic figures for the month of May 2011 show further modest growth in international passenger traffic while international air cargo demand fell during the month.
Overall, airlines based in the Asia Pacific region carried 14.8 million international passengers in May, a 3.4% increase compared to the same month last year, underpinned by continued strength in both leisure and business travel markets.
International passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms, grew by 4.7% reflecting relatively stronger demand on long haul routes. Combined with a 5.1% increase in available seat capacity, the average international passenger load factor was 73.6%, marginally lower than the comparable figure for the same month last year.
International air cargo demand registered significant declines in May, falling by 9.8% in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms, the sharpest fall this year. Even with a 4.7% reduction in offered freight capacity, the average international freight load factor fell by 3.9 percentage points to 68.8% for the month.
“On the passenger side of the business, we were pleased to see continued growth in travel demand, with both leisure and business travel markets showing positive results. Japanese outbound leisure traffic showed some welcome signs of recovery, as did business travel to and from Japan. However, inbound leisure traffic flows to Japan remain weak; it will take more time to fully restore public confidence,” said Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General. “The decline in international air cargo traffic reported for May this year reflects some moderation in the pace of global economic growth, affecting Asian exports, especially when compared to the very strong rebound in demand seen last year. However, we may see volumes pick up again in the traditionally stronger second half of the year.”
“Over the first five months of the year, Asian airlines have seen 2.5% growth in the number of international passengers carried, whereas international air cargo traffic has declined by 2.4% during the same period. The combination of slower revenue growth and sharply higher fuel costs means airline operating margins are under severe pressure. Continued vigilance in controlling costs, and carefully matching capacity to the projected changes in demand will be the key to sustaining profitability,” added Herdman.