Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Preliminary traffic figures for the month of August released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed robust growth in international air passenger markets, buoyed by higher leisure travel demand during the peak holiday season. Meanwhile, international air cargo markets also saw sustained client demand.
In aggregate, Asia Pacific airlines carried 32.0 million international passengers in August, a firm 8.4% increase compared to the same month last year, with consumer confidence underpinned by ongoing economic expansion. Demand as measured in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms grew by 8.2%, reflecting strong contributions from both regional and long haul travel markets. The comparatively moderate expansion in available seat capacity, by 6.2% for the month, led to a 1.5 percentage point increase in the average international passenger load factor to a record ten-year high of 83.4%.
Growth in international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) recorded a 4.2% year-on-year increase in August. Monthly FTK volumes remained relatively firm, with broad-based economic growth continuing to support demand for air cargo. The average international freight load factor fell slightly by 0.8 percentage points to 63.2% for the month, following a 5.5% expansion in offered freight capacity.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, "Strong business and leisure travel demand continued to fuel growth in international passenger markets for Asian carriers. Overall, the region's airlines achieved an impressive 8.0% increase in the number of international passengers carried to a combined total of 239 million in the first eight months of the year."
"During the same period, international air cargo demand increased by 4.8%, although growth rates have moderated after the strong surge we saw last year."
Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman said, "The ongoing expansion in the global economy is sustaining high levels of consumer confidence which should continue to support further growth in both leisure and business travel markets. Air cargo demand remains relatively firm moving into the peak season, even though growth rates have moderated. The escalation in protectionist rhetoric and the imposition of new tariffs has so far had little real impact on trade flows, but adds an element of uncertainty for businesses reliant on integrated global supply chains."
"Asian airlines are benefitting from the sustained growth in air travel demand, and achieving high load factors, but continue to face a challenging operating environment, buffeted by the effects of high fuel prices and weak local currencies. Overall, Asian airlines remain proactive in adapting to such pressures in a bid to maintain earnings performance."