KUALA LUMPUR, 30 June 2021: Asia Pacific’s international
passenger traffic volumes remained at depressed levels during May, held back by
strict border restrictions and concerns about the spread of Covid-19 variants,
according to figures released Tuesday by the Association of Asia Pacific
Preliminary May 2021 traffic data showed only 1.3 million
international passengers flew on the region’s carriers in May, representing
just 4.3% of the volumes carried in the corresponding month of 2019. The
international passenger load factor averaged 28.4% for the month, with
available seat capacity at 12.3% of levels recorded in 2019.
Meanwhile, strong business and consumer demand globally
drove demand for air cargo. For the month, international air cargo demand as
measured in freight tonne-kilometres (FTK) saw a 23.1% year-on-year growth,
significantly outpacing the 3.6% increase in offered freight capacity, as belly
hold space remained constrained due to limited commercial passenger operations.
As a result, the average international freight load factor rose by 11.7
percentage points to 73.7%.
Commenting on the results, AAPA director general Subhas
Menon said, “Air cargo volumes carried by Asia Pacific carriers have largely
recovered to pre-pandemic volumes in response to strong demand. This contrasts
starkly with the depressed state of international passenger traffic, which has
remained largely stagnant with no improvements seen in over a year.
“The uneven pace of vaccinations throughout the world
has delayed the recovery in international air travel. In some advanced
economies, travel markets are slowly recovering as populations get vaccinated,
and business activities resume. However, the same cannot be said for the
majority of the emerging market economies in Asia, where vaccination roll-outs
remain slow due to supply constraints, logistical issues and limited workforce.
As a result, the travel and tourism sectors in the region have continued to
suffer as strict border controls remain in place. International passenger
traffic carried by Asia Pacific airlines amounts to barely 5% of pre-pandemic
He concluded: “Renewed concerns over the appearance of new
COVID-19 variants have held back any meaningful reopening of borders. This will
have a negative impact on airline survival, and additional government support
will likely be required as the crisis is prolonged. Overall, AAPA is committed
to collaborating with governments and related stakeholders in progressing the
safe, smart and sustainable resumption of international air travel.”