Asia Pacific airlines see 9% drop in April volumes

Air cargo volumes continued to fall for Asia Pacific airlines in April, bringing the decline to 6.3% for the first four months of the year.

Air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) fell by a steep 9.1% year-on-year in April, with further declines in new export orders affecting trade activity, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). It blamed “disruptions to global supply chains amid heightened trade tensions, particularly between the United States and China”.

The association noted that “in particular, the fall in air shipment volumes coincided with production declines in the region’s technology equipment sectors. Whilst demand fell, offered freight capacity edged 0.4% higher, leading to a 6.0 percentage point drop in the average international freight load factor to 57.3% for the month.”

AAPA director general Andrew Herdman said: “These traffic trends paint a mixed picture. The first four months of the year saw a 4.9% increase in the number of passengers carried by the region’s airlines to an aggregate total of 125 million, whereas air cargo markets experienced a 6.3% decline in demand during the same period.

“Since the last quarter of 2018, air cargo volumes have recorded declines as unresolved disputes and the imposition of trade tariffs led to a marked slowdown in international trade flows.”

He added: “The current trade tensions and further erosion in business confidence could undermine growth prospects going forward, even though demand for international air travel is expected to remain relatively firm. The region’s airlines are proactively exploring new opportunities for growth, whilst carefully managing capacity expansion and implementing measures to contain costs in a bid to navigate successfully through the ongoing challenges.”

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