Asia Pacific air cargo growth moderate but still positive in March

Asia Pacific carriers saw "more moderate but still positive growth in air cargo demand" during March as international air passenger markets reported "firm" increases versus the same year in 2017.
Preliminary traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed that  international air cargo demand, measured in freight tonne km (FTK), increased by 2.8% year-on-year in March.
AAPA stated that cargo demand on routes within the region, as well as traffic to and from the region, "remained encouraging," underpinned by demand for transportation of both intermediate goods and consumer products including strong growth in e-commerce shipments.
Offered freight capacity increased by 5.6% which resulted in an average international freight load factor of 65.5%, 1.8 percentage points lower than in the same month last year. 
AAPA director general Andrew Herdman said: "International air cargo demand remained robust during the same period, achieving 5.9% growth, building further on last year’s very strong cargo performance."
"Growth across advanced and emerging market economies was maintained in the first quarter of the year, driven by positive business and consumer sentiment.
"Correspondingly, world trade activity continued to expand, underpinned by increased investments and higher manufacturing output in the region, in response to increased new business orders. These positive factors continued to support growth in both air passenger and cargo demand for Asian airlines."
Looking ahead, Herdman said: "The market outlook for Asian carriers remains positive, given continued availability of affordable air fares and increasing numbers of new destinations connecting travellers."
He added: "Asian carriers overall saw a significant improvement in earnings performance last year, on the back of the strong growth in air passenger and air cargo demand.
"However, the airline operating environment remains challenging, with competitive pressures including higher fuel prices and labour expenses. Asia Pacific airlines therefore remain focused in striving for cost efficiencies and productivity improvements whilst seeking avenues for further growth."
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