AAPA: Cargo demand picks up in November as capacity crunch softens

In its preliminary November 2020 international air traffic figures, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) suggested that cargo remains the bright spot for the region’s airlines as passenger demand struggles to pick up.

Cargo volumes increased for the third consecutive month. However, year on year demand, measured in freight tonne km (FTKs) was down 11.3% to 5.7m tonnes.

Cargo volumes recorded from January to November 2020 (54.4m tonnes) were 16.4% lower than in the same period of 2019.

However, as a result of carriers in the region deploying preighters and ramping up freighter operations, cargo capacity in the region increased by 6.7 percentage points to 69.5% in November 2020.

The AAPA said the performance of air cargo in the region was supported by the recovery in global manufacturing activity.

Meanwhile, passenger demand in November 2020 declined 95.4% year on year to 1.4m passengers carried.

“Offered seat capacity was comparatively higher at 12.5% of levels in the previous corresponding period,” the AAPA said. “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.”

Commenting on the results, 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.”

Menon added: “The near-term outlook for the airline industry remains extremely challenging. Governments need to move ahead with plans to implement harmonised testing protocols as a part of a multi-layered and risk-based approach towards safely restoring air travel, at the same time as vaccinations are rolled out across the world.”

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