Government reactions to coronavirus inconsistent, says AAPA

Shanghai Pudong - Pactl Terminal

Measures taken by governments in response to the coronavirus outbreak are not always helpful, according to the Director General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

“The proliferation of uncoordinated travel advisories and border restrictions imposed by governments, whilst well-intentioned, are inconsistent with WHO recommendations and International Health Regulations, and only serve to amplify public concern,” said Andrew Herdman.

His statement came with the release of the association’s January 2020 traffic results which showed a 4% decline in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) in the month compared to the previous year. Despite an anticipated softening of demand due to factory close-downs ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations, freight capacity grew by 2.7%, resulting in the average international load factor declining by 3.7 percentage points to 53%.

Mr Herdman said: “We are now in uncharted territory with the COVID-19 outbreak having had a very significant economic and social impact, leading to sharp falls in China-related traffic and wider effects on Asia Pacific travel and tourism markets, as well as severely disrupting global manufacturing supply chains.”

Freight volumes fell to 5,478m FTK from 5,705m in January 2019. Passenger volumes were up slightly (2.7%) for the period but Mr Herdman said almost all airlines in the region had reduced flights in response to sharp falls in demand.

“Airlines are focussing closely on making associated cost reductions and conserving cash resources in order to survive the current downturn, whilst remaining ready to respond positively as and when the situation shows signs of improvement.”

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