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July 25, 2024
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Building on the positive trend from February, Asia Pacific Airlines continued to experience significant growth in international passenger and cargo traffic in March 2024, according to the latest figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). This trend aligns with the steady expansion observed in global economic activity.

March saw a significant 37.5% year-on-year increase in international passengers carried by Asia Pacific airlines, reaching a total of 28.2 million. This translates to traffic volumes reaching 86.8% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), demand rose by an impressive 38.6%, indicating strong growth, particularly on regional routes. Notably, the passenger load factor remained stable at 82.0%, reflecting a healthy balance between supply and demand.

Air China Cargo Boeing 777

Cargo Market Maintains Upward Trajectory

The region’s air cargo market also continued its positive trajectory in March, driven by factors like increased manufacturing orders and a dynamic e-commerce sector. This resulted in a 15.3% year-on-year increase in international air cargo demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTK).

While the average international air freight load factor dipped slightly to 62.7%, this can be attributed to a faster expansion in offered freight capacity (16.2%) compared to demand growth.

Qantas Boeing 787-9

Looking Ahead: Optimism with Cautious Notes

AAPA Director General, Mr. Subhas Menon, expressed optimism for the future, citing improving global economic forecasts and a strong first quarter performance with a 47% year-on-year increase in passengers carried. However, he acknowledged potential challenges such as intensifying competition due to ongoing capacity restoration and rising operational costs caused by inflation and supply chain issues.

Despite these headwinds, Asia Pacific Airlines remains focused on growth opportunities while prioritizing safety and customer service, aiming for a full recovery shortly.

Asia Pacific Airlines
Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200

Key Takeaways from March 2024 Traffic Results

  • 37.5% year-on-year increase in international passenger traffic.
  • Passenger load factor nearing pre-pandemic levels at 82.0%.
  • 15.3% year-on-year increase in air cargo demand.
  • Airlines face challenges like competition and rising operational costs.

While March saw a slightly lower passenger traffic growth rate compared to February’s whooping 56.7% increase, it still represents a significant positive trend. The APAC region’s air cargo market also maintained its upward trajectory, although with a smaller growth margin compared to February.

Asiana Airbus A380. Photo: Airbus

AAPA Director General’s Response

Commenting on the results, Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General said, “March saw another healthy expansion in both passenger and cargo markets, culminating in a strong first quarter performance for 2024. For the three-month period, Asian airlines registered a 47% year-on-year increase in the number of passengers carried, fuelled by a surge in demand for both leisure and business travel.”

“Additionally, international air cargo traffic witnessed a solid 16% year-on-year increase during the same period, signaling that the full recovery of the Asia Pacific airline industry is well within sight.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Menon said, “The potential alleviation of interest rates and inflationary pressures are expected to stimulate spending, thereby driving further growth in air travel and cargo markets in the upcoming months.”

“However, the airline operating environment is challenging today, marked by international conflicts, extreme weather events, and supply chain issues, that increase cost pressures on carriers due to re-routings, flight diversions, and disruptions. Nevertheless, the Asia Pacific airline industry, is growing steadily, steadfastly focused on enhancing air connectivity and the travel experience of their customer,” added Mr. Menon.

author avatar
Sharad Ranabhat
An experienced journalist, based in Nepal, with a proven track record of delivering breaking news and research-based analysis in the airline/aviation industry. Working with multiple outlets, I have honed my writing skills to produce engaging and informative content that resonates with industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.

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