(29 June 2021)
Preliminary traffic figures from the Association of
Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) show that international passenger
traffic volumes in May 2021 remained at depressed levels, held back by
strict border restrictions amidst concerns about the spread of
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 bellyhold 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%.
Subhas Menon, AAPA
Director General, 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
“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 manpower.
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
amount to barely 5% of pre-pandemic volumes.
“Renewed concerns over the
appearance of new COVID19 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.”
Travel Industry News,
Asia Pacific Airlines,