KUALA LUMPUR, 7 January 2021: Preliminary November 2020
traffic figures released Wednesday by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines
(AAPA) highlighted the lack of progress in the revival of international travel.
Demand continues to be held back by ongoing border restrictions amid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections in various countries.
Meanwhile, air cargo markets were a silver lining for the
region’s carriers, supported by the recovery in global manufacturing activity.
Only 1.4 million international passengers travelled on Asia
Pacific airlines in November, a mere 4.6% of the 30.8 million recorded in the
same month of 2019.
Offered seat capacity was comparatively higher at 12.5% of
levels in the previous corresponding period. In a reflection of the challenging
operating conditions, the region’s carriers recorded an average international
passenger load factor of just 30% for the month, far below the 80% achieved in
International trade flows continued to rebound in November,
buoyed by an acceleration in new export orders. As a result, cargo volumes
carried by the region’s airlines increased for the third consecutive month,
although demand, as measured in freight tonne-kilometres (FTK), was still down
11.3% year-on-year. Airlines increased capacity by deploying converted passenger
aircraft and maximising dedicated freighter utilisation, helping to ease
capacity shortages as reflected in the 6.7 percentage points increase in the
international freight load factor to average 69.5% for the month.
Commenting on the results, AAPA director general, Subhas
Menon said: “While the recovery in global economic activity has broadened
across sectors, international travel remains crippled by border closures
affecting 60% of Asia Pacific destinations. The recent escalation in COVID-19
cases and the emergence of variant strains, have resulted in the re-imposition
of stricter travel restrictions by several States.”
Menon added: “The near-term outlook for the airline industry
remains extremely challenging. Governments need to move ahead with plans to
implement harmonised testing protocols as a part of a multi-layered and
risk-based approach towards safely restoring air travel, at the same time as
vaccinations are rolled out across the world.”