Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Preliminary traffic figures for the month of January released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed continued growth in international air passenger demand, whilst international air cargo markets enjoyed a strong start to the year.
A combined total of 29.5 million international passengers were carried by the region's airlines in January, 2.4% more than the same month last year when volumes were boosted by an increase in travelers during the Chinese New Year festive period, which occurred a month earlier. In revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), demand climbed 3.4% higher, whilst available seat capacity expanded by 5.1%, resulting in a 1.4 percentage point decline in the average international passenger load factor to 80.5% for the month.
Global trade activity remained robust at the start of 2018, with firm demand for consumer, intermediate and investment goods across major economies lending support to air cargo markets. Accordingly, international air cargo demand in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms recorded a 9.4% year-on-year growth in January. After accounting for a 5.4% expansion in offered freight capacity, the average international freight load factor of 60.8% was 2.2 percentage points higher than the same month last year.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, "The year has started on a positive note, with growth in both passenger and cargo sectors."
"Overall, international air passenger demand remains encouraging, having registered continued growth in numbers, with the widespread availability of affordable air fares and increasing network connections providing more options for travelers. Meanwhile, the on-going strength in the global economy has continued to benefit the air cargo business for Asian carriers, particularly as major manufacturing hubs are located in the region."
Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman concluded, "Growth prospects look positive, with elevated levels of business and consumer confidence boosting aviation markets in the coming months. Whilst Asian airlines face persistently challenging market conditions due to stiff competition and rising costs, carriers continue to strive for further improvements through the launch of new routes and continued investment in new levels of passenger comfort."