Air cargo demand saw robust growth last month, significantly outpacing the increase in offered freight capacity as bellyhold space remained constrained
International passenger traffic volumes remained at depressed levels, held back by continued strict border restrictions
Strong business and consumer demand globally drove traffic in international air cargo in May, while international passenger traffic volumes continued to stagnate, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
International air cargo demand saw a 23.1% year-on-year growth last month, significantly outpacing the 3.6% increase in offered freight capacity, as bellyhold space remained constrained due to limited commercial passenger operations. As a result, the average international freight load factor rose by 11.7 percentage points to 73.7%.
On the other hand, international passenger traffic volumes remained at depressed levels, held back by strict border restrictions amidst concerns about the spread of COVID-19 variants.
Only 1.3 million international passengers flew on the region’s carriers in May, representing just 4.3% of the volumes carried in the corresponding month of 2019. The international passenger load factor averaged 28.4% for the month, with available seat capacity at 12.3% of levels recorded in 2019.
Subhas Menon, AAPA director general, said, “Air cargo volumes carried by Asia Pacific carriers have largely recovered to pre-pandemic volumes in response to strong demand. This contrasts starkly with the depressed state of international passenger traffic, which has remained largely stagnant with no improvements seen in over a year.”
He pointed to the uneven pace of vaccinations throughout the world for the delayed recovery in international air travel.
While travel markets are slowly recovering in some advanced economies as populations get vaccinated, the travel and tourism sectors in the majority of the emerging market economies of Asia have continued to suffer due to slow vaccination roll-outs and strict border controls.
“International passenger traffic carried by Asia Pacific airlines amount to barely 5% of pre-pandemic volumes,” Menon said.