Home » Aviation, Breaking News » Asia-Pacific cargo airlines accelerate 5.4% after 3-year slump

Nippon cargoThe outlook for Asia-Pacific airlines for 2015 remains positive, as regional carriers logged healthy growth last year and appear set for more of the same in the new year, according to figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

The region’s carriers flew 256.1 million passengers in 2014, as international air passenger demand rose 4.8% compared to 2013. Sustained growth in Asian regional economies, and robust trade activities supported by stronger U.S. markets, helped underpin business and leisure travel demand, said AAPA.

But the aggregate 4.7% increase in traffic, in revenue passenger kilometer terms, was slightly outpaced by a 6% expansion in available seat capacity, which led to a 1 percentage point decline in the average load factor to 77% for the year.

Meanwhile air cargo markets experienced an encouraging revival in demand after three consecutive years of declines. An upsurge in exports from manufacturing hubs in the region led to a rebound in international air cargo markets in 2014, with demand as expressed in freight tonne kilometer terms growing by a solid 5.4% compared to the previous year.

Available freight capacity grew at a relatively modest pace of 4.1%, resulting in a 0.8 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor to 64.9%.

Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, said, “Despite challenges, Asia-Pacific airlines enjoyed a year of good growth in international passenger traffic in 2014. Passenger demand was healthy, underpinned by increasing numbers of middle-income earners and further expansion in airline networks, which have all helped boost air travel within the region and beyond.”

However, passenger yields remained under pressure throughout the year, reflecting the intensely competitive market environment and some signs of overcapacity.

For air cargo markets, the industry saw a welcome upswing in 2014, with the second half of the year registering 6% growth compared to the same period in 2013, following several years of stagnant demand, Herdman added.

“The dramatic fall in oil prices since the end of the year has been welcomed by many airlines, although the resultant benefit in terms of improved profitability will vary depending on individual airline hedging policies and their degree of exposure to external debt, given the weaker Asian currencies.”

Looking ahead, Herdman forecasts that the industry’s overall outlook for the coming year will remain broadly positive, with sustained growth in the global economy continuing to drive air travel demand, while lower oil prices will also help to keep air travel affordable.

“However, airlines will need to closely monitor market movements, and align future capacity increases with the actual increase in demand, whilst seeking further operating efficiencies to restore margins to more sustainable levels.”

Photo: BriYYZ

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