Asia’s airlines carried higher cargo volumes for the third straight month in November
An acceleration in new export orders helped to boost volumes
In contrast, passenger demand remained severely depressed
Air cargo volumes carried by Asia’s airlines increased for the third consecutive month in November, supported by recovery in global manufacturing activity, according to the latest figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
Buoyed by an acceleration in new export orders, international trade flows continued to rebound in November, lifting cargo volumes as well.
However, demand as measured in freight tonne kilometers was still down 11.3% year-on-year, according to AAPA in its January 6 release.
Airlines increased cargo capacity by deploying converted passenger aircraft and maximizing dedicated freighter utilization. This helped to ease capacity shortages as reflected in the 6.7 percentage point increase in the international freight load factor to average 69.5% for the month
From January to November 2020, air cargo volumes were down 16.4% compared to the same period in 2019.
In contrast, November passenger data highlighted the lack of progress in the revival of international travel with demand still held back by ongoing border restrictions amid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections in various countries.
Only 1.4 million international passengers were carried by Asia-Pacific airlines in November, a mere 4.6% of the 30.8 million recorded in the same month of 2019. Offered seat capacity was comparatively higher at 12.5% of levels in the previous corresponding period.
For the period January to November 2020, the region’s airlines carried only 19.4% of the 350 million passengers transported in the same period in 2019.
Reflecting the challenging operating conditions, the region’s carriers recorded an average international passenger load factor of just 30% for the month, far below the 80% achieved in November 2019.
AAPA director general Subhas Menon, said, “Whilst the recovery in global economic activity has broadened across sectors, international travel remains crippled by border closures affecting 60% of Asia Pacific destinations. The recent escalation in COVID-19 cases and emergence of variant strains, have resulted in the re-imposition of stricter travel restrictions by several States.”
He said the near-term outlook for the airline industry “remains extremely challenging” as he urged governments to implement harmonized testing protocols to safely restore air travel at the same time that vaccinations are being rolled out across the world.