(06 Jan 2021)
Preliminary November 2020 traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA)
highlight the lack of progress in the revival of international
travel with demand still held back by ongoing border restrictions
amid a resurgence of COVID19 infections in various countries.
Air cargo markets were a silver lining for the region’s
carriers, supported by recovery in global manufacturing activity.
Airlines in Asia Pacific carried 1.4 million international passengers
in November, just 4.6% of the
30.8 million recorded in the same month of 2019. Offered seat
capacity was comparatively higher at 12.5% whilst
international passenger load factors averaged 30% for the month, far
below the 80% achieved in November 2019.
International trade flows continued to rebound in
November, buoyed by an acceleration in new export orders. As a
result, cargo volumes carried by the region’s airlines increased
for the third consecutive month, although demand as measured in
freight tonne kilometres (FTK) was still down 11.3% year-on-year.
Airlines increased capacity by deploying converted passenger
aircraft and maximising dedicated freighter utilisation, helping
to ease capacity shortages as reflected in the 6.7 percentage
point increase in the international freight load factor to average
69.5% for the month.
“Whilst the recovery in global economic
activity has broadened across sectors, international travel
remains crippled by border closures affecting 60% of Asia Pacific
destinations. The recent escalation in COVID-19 cases and
emergence of variant strains, have resulted in the re-imposition
of stricter travel restrictions by several States,” said AAPA
Director General Mr. Subhas Menon. “The near-term outlook for the
airline industry remains extremely challenging. Governments need
to move ahead with plans to implement harmonised testing protocols
as a part of a multi-layered and risk-based approach towards
safely restoring air travel, at the same time as vaccinations are
rolled out across the world.”