(31 May 2021) Preliminary traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) for April 2021 show that international passenger demand continued to linger at the significantly depressed volumes seen since April 2020.
Asia Pacific airlines carried just 1.1 million international passengers in April 2021, an improvement over the same period in 2020 but still just 3.5% of passenger volumes recorded in April 2019. Available seat capacity was only 4% of levels registered in 2019, with the international passenger load factor averaging 26.4% for the month.
Aair cargo demand in international freight tonne kilometres (FTK) grew by 42% year-on-year in April, achieving volumes slightly above the same period in 2019. Offered freight capacity rose by 29.4% year-on-year, resulting in a 6.7 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor to 74.8% for the month.
Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General said, “The emergence of different variants with higher transmissibility rates has deterred Asian economies from reopening their borders, with extended quarantine requirements further suppressing international travel demand. Bilateral travel corridors offer hope for a recovery, yet remain susceptible to disruptions, as evidenced by the second postponement of the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble, reflecting the extremely challenging operating conditions faced by airlines.
“In Asia, the relatively slow pace of vaccinations continues to undermine the region’s economic recovery, in particular, the travel and tourism sectors which have been badly hit. Accelerating vaccination rollouts will be key to paving the way for the restart of the travel industry. However, governments are still facing numerous challenges, including supply constraints and logistical issues.
“Meanwhile, Asian airlines continue to play a pivotal role in supporting international efforts to save lives, through the delivery of much-needed medical supplies. However, the majority of the region’s carriers, with their international passenger business severely curtailed, continue to burn through cash every month. Some airlines are undergoing major restructuring, whilst others are raising further equity.
“As COVID19 becomes endemic in society and borders progressively reopen, the collaboration of multiple stakeholders such as governments, airlines, airports and service providers, as well as the implementation of harmonised risk-based measures in accordance with ICAO and WHO guidelines, will be needed to restart international air travel in a smart, safe and sustainable way,” Mr. Menon concluded.