Preliminary April 2022 traffic figures released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed a healthy increase in international passenger demand, as the progressive relaxation of border restrictions across the region stimulated business and leisure travel.
Overall, Asia Pacific airlines recorded a 272.9% jump in the number of international passengers carried (a total of 4.8 million) compared to the same month last year.
Demand rose to an average of 15.2% of the volumes posted in the pre-pandemic month of April 2019.
In revenue passenger (RPK) terms, international passenger demand increased by a robust 302.7% year-on-year, reflecting the strength of longer haul traffic.
Available seat capacity expanded by 77.5% year-on-year, resulting in a solid 36.3 percentage point increase in the average international passenger load factor to 64.9% for the month, the highest level achieved since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
On the other hand, the start of the second quarter saw a further reduction in global manufacturing activity, with the Russia-Ukraine war and tight COVID-19 restrictions in China constraining production lines and hampering trade across major routes.
Against this backdrop, international air cargo demand as measured in international freight tonne kilometres (FTK) fell for the second consecutive month in April, by 8.5% year-on-year.
Offered freight capacity decreased by 3.1% compared to the same month last year, leading to a 4.2 percentage point decline in the average international freight load factor to 70.3% for the month.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General said, “With vaccination rates high in the region, the general easing of border regulations has unleashed pent-up travel demand, as evidenced by the strong growth in international passenger numbers in April and healthy forward booking patterns.”
Mr. Menon added, “By contrast, the air cargo business faces some challenges, from rising geopolitical tensions, persistent supply chain disruptions, to intensifying inflationary pressures.
“The first four months of this year has seen international air cargo demand fall by 1.6% compared to the previous corresponding period, after a strong upturn in 2021.”
Mr. Menon concluded, “Asia Pacific continues to lag in the recovery of international travel.
“To build on the current momentum towards a full recovery, it is vital that governments and industry stakeholders collaborate closely with the aim of simplifying border measures and streamlining digital applications to make air travel truly seamless.”