Asia-Pacific air passenger traffic has nosedived. The latest data was released on March 1st, 2021 from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) in the region. The association noted that Asia Pacific airlines carried a combined total of 1.3 million passengers in January, down 96.1% of the same month last year when 33.5 million passengers flew on the region’s carriers.

Offered seat capacity was 12.1% of the January 2020 volume, while passenger load factor averaged 27% for the month, a significant 54 percentage point decline from the 81% achieved in the corresponding month last year, when traffic volumes were still relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 it said.

AAPA Director General Mr. Subhas Menon, said, “Renewed efforts to contain COVID-19 through lockdowns and border restrictions have again affected passenger demand, which remains close to a standstill.” Mr. Menon added, “The uneven roll-out of vaccinations across the world will only delay the full reopening of borders. In this extremely challenging operating environment, airlines are struggling to survive. While some airlines are receiving financial support, further assistance would be needed for most airlines to stay afloat, given that borders remain largely shuttered.”

Meanwhile, the industry is working with several stakeholders to prepare the ground for the sustained resumption of air travel, notably on contactless digitalized tools and passenger facilitation protocols to ensure a safe and seamless journey for travelers. The Asia Pacific aviation industry is committed to playing its part in the COVID-19 pandemic, through the carriage of time-sensitive cargo supplies especially vaccines, and the safe repatriation of residents.

In January 2021, separately air cargo as measured in freight tonne-kilometers (FTK) recorded a marginal increase of 0.3%, the first year-on-year growth in many months, partly boosted by higher demand for air shipments ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Offered freight capacity fell by 25% year-on-year, reflecting the prevailing capacity crunch as a result of the decline in passenger belly space. The freight load factor averaged 71.6%, an 18 percentage point increase compared to the same month last year they noted.

It seems that the aviation sector with ongoing restrictions and strict border controls will continue to weigh on the Asian market.

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