By Edward Robertson
Air traffic in the Asia Pacific region has remained depressed in February this year.
New figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) shows that the region’s airlines carried only 1.2 million international passengers during the month – just 6.3 per cent of the 18.3 million passengers recorded in February 2020.
Available seat capacity in February was 14.3 per cent of that in 2020, when aviation was already beginning to feel the Covid-19 squeeze.
Despite the big reduction in seat numbers, the average international passenger load factor on the flights was 24.8 per cent.
However, there was some good news for carriers in the region as international air cargo demand measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) increased by 7.6 per cent year on year in February.
This was offset by freight capacity declining by 9.2 per cent in the same period, despite the increased use of freighter aircraft and passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights.
AAPA director general Subhas Menon said: “During the first two months of the year, Asian airlines carried just 4 per cent of the number of international passengers that flew in the corresponding months of 2019, before the pandemic decimated travel.
“Air cargo remains the single bright spot for the Asian carriers. International air cargo demand for the first two months of the year was 2.2 per cent higher than in 2019. Nevertheless, cargo revenue could not offset the collapse in passenger revenue.
“With travel markets shuttered by border closures, airlines will require further government support to weather the crisis. The rebound in economic activity is progressing globally, whilst the travel and tourism sectors continue to be severely curtailed by differing travel requirements and restrictions, with the unpredictability of further changes.”
“The region’s airlines are focusing efforts in digitalising the travel process, including utilising technologies that aid governments and travellers in managing health credentials securely and efficiently.
“The latest updates to the ICAO CART guidelines are a further positive step towards the safe resumption of international air travel. We call on governments to fully embrace the guidelines and collaborate with one another to ensure that travel requirements are harmonised for the convenience of the travelling public.”