International air cargo demand for Asian carriers climbed 7.6% higher in February year-on-year due to accelerated trade activity
The grounding of many passenger aircraft fleets and disruptions to container shipping led to additional pressure on limited air freight capacity
International air cargo demand for the first two months of the year was 2.2% higher than in 2019
International passenger demand worsened in February amid fears over the spread of COVID-19 variants
Robust export activity amid improving global business confidence boosted demand for air cargo in February, according to preliminary traffic figures released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
International air passenger demand, on the other hand, remained at depressed levels as a result of continued border restrictions.
For Asia Pacific carriers, international air cargo demand, as measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTK), climbed 7.6% higher in February compared to the same month last year, on the back of an acceleration in trade activity.
The grounding of many passenger aircraft fleets as well as disruptions to container shipping led to additional pressure on limited air freight capacity.
In February, offered freight capacity declined by 9.2% year-on-year, despite increased utilization of dedicated freighter aircraft supplemented by additional cargo-only passenger flights. As a result, the international freight load factor recorded an 11.1 percentage point increase to average 71.7% for the month.
Overall, international passenger demand worsened in February, as fears over the spread of COVID-19 variants prompted the imposition of additional layers of border control measures.
The region’s airlines carried only a total of 1.2 million international passengers, representing just 6.3% of the 18.3 million passengers recorded in the same month last year, when air travel demand was already slowing due to the intensifying spread of COVID-19 across the world.
Available seat capacity was 14.9% of levels registered last year, whilst the average international passenger load factor of 24.8% for the month underscored the extremely weak demand conditions.
Subhas Menon, AAPA director general, said, “Air cargo remains the single bright spot for the Asian carriers. International air cargo demand for the first two months of the year was 2.2% higher than in 2019. Nevertheless, cargo revenue could not offset the collapse in passenger revenue.”
He added: “During the first two months of the year, Asian airlines carried just 4% of the number of international passengers that flew in the corresponding months of 2019, before the pandemic decimated travel.”
“The rebound in economic activity is progressing globally, whilst the travel and tourism sectors continue to be severely curtailed by differing travel requirements and restrictions, with the unpredictability of further changes.”
He said the region’s airlines are focusing efforts on digitalizing the travel process, including utilizing technologies that aid governments and travelers in managing health credentials securely and efficiently.
“We call on governments to fully embrace the guidelines and collaborate with one another to ensure that travel requirements are harmonized for the convenience of the travelling public.”