Preliminary June 2022 traffic figures released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed robust growth in international air passenger demand, as the increasing willingness to fly continues to drive a recovery in both leisure and corporate travel.
The number of international passengers carried rose more than six-fold year-on-year to a combined 9 million in June, bringing demand to 28.3% of the corresponding pre-pandemic month in 2019.
As measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), demand rose by a robust 509.3%, significantly outpacing the 139.5% expansion in available seat capacity.
As a result, the average international passenger load factor jumped by 46.7 percentage points to reach a new pandemic high of 76.9%.
By contrast, the slowing of international trade flows, amid a globally worsening inflationary environment, further dampened demand for air shipments.
Consequently, international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) fell by 4.1% year-on-year in June.
In tandem with the recovery in passenger services, increased bellyhold space contributed to a 5.7% growth in offered freight capacity.
This led to a 6.9 percentage point decline in the international freight load factor to an average of 67.2% for the month.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General said, “The recovery of international air travel is well underway, only dampened by the weakening of air cargo demand as a result of declining exports and continuing supply chain constraints.”
Mr. Menon added, “The region’s airlines are resuming flights to more destinations, as economies reopen for business and international travel.
“This is a welcome change that was a long time coming.
“Although the number of international passengers carried by the airlines in the first half of 2022 is 330% higher than that of 2021, it is still well below pre-COVID levels.
“Meanwhile, escalating fuel prices and cost inflation are risks to the nascent recovery and return to profitability just as the industry is emerging from its worst crisis.”
“Airlines are also confronting operational challenges that can slow down the recovery as travel demand accelerates.
“While the region has not experienced the widespread chaos observed in other parts of the world, there are signs of strain in the aviation ecosystem as a result of manpower shortages.
“In the short term, hiring and retention incentives are being offered, but more needs to be done to rebuild the resilience of the industry for the future.”
Mr. Menon concluded, “To sustain the growth in air travel, cooperation among industry stakeholders as well as supportive government policies remains crucial in addressing operational constraints as demand picks up speed.
“Rational and durable measures are vital in the event of a deterioration in the public health situation or a new crisis.”