Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Preliminary traffic figures for the month of August released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed encouraging growth in international air passenger demand. Meanwhile, the solid expansion in international air cargo markets continued unabated. Growth in both markets was supported by high business confidence levels across the services and manufacturing sectors in major advanced and emerging economies.

The month saw the region's airlines record a 5.6% increase in the number of international air passengers carried to a combined total of 27.8 million, boosted by a combination of higher leisure travel demand during the holiday season as well as travel for business purposes. Reflecting on-going strength in long haul markets, demand in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms increased by 7.1%. Available seat capacity expanded by 6.7%, resulting in a marginal 0.3 percentage point increase in the average international passenger load factor to 81.7% for the month.

Firm demand for manufactured products, particularly pharmaceutical goods and technological equipment, underpinned August's strong 12.2% increase in air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK). The growth in air cargo volumes significantly out-paced the 5.6% expansion in offered freight capacity, leading to a 3.8 percentage point rise in the average international freight load factor to 64.1% for the month.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, "Asian airlines were encouraged by the continued expansion in both international air passenger and cargo markets, registering a 5.2% increase in the number of international air passengers carried to a combined total of 210 million for the first eight months of the year. During the same period, international air cargo markets saw a robust 10.6% increase in freight traffic carried by Asian airlines."

Mr. Herdman added, "The sustained growth in air traffic demand has clearly been positive for the sector. Nevertheless, against the backdrop of a challenging operating environment marked by highly competitive air fares and rising costs, Asian carriers are continuing to work hard to improve profitability, with considerable variations in individual airline performance, both globally and within the region."

Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman continued, "Broad-based expansion in global economic output should help to sustain further growth in both air passenger and air cargo traffic demand in the upcoming months, and the longer term outlook remains broadly positive."