Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Preliminary traffic figures for the month of February released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed further growth in both international air passenger and air cargo markets, underpinned by positive business and consumer sentiment across major advanced and emerging market economies.
The region's airlines carried a combined total of 28.0 million international passengers in February, a firm 7.7% increase compared to the same month last year, boosted by an increase in leisure travellers during the Chinese New Year festive period. As measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), demand grew by 8.9%, on the back of growth in long-haul travel markets. The average international passenger load factor edged 0.8 percentage points higher to 81.2% for the month, after accounting for a 7.8% expansion in available seat capacity.
Buoyant demand in Asian economies, coupled with further expansion in export activity contributed to further growth in trade activity in the region. Correspondingly, the region's carriers registered a 7.3% increase in air cargo volumes as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) in February. Combined with the 8.2% increase in offered freight capacity, the average international freight load factor of 59.5% was 0.5 percentage points lower than the same month last year.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, "During the first two months of the year, Asian airlines carried a total of 57.5 million international passengers, representing a 4.9% increase compared to the corresponding period last year. Positive global economic conditions, with firm business confidence levels helped boost premium class markets, whilst continued availability of affordable airfares encouraged growth in the economy class segment."
"Over the same period, robust manufacturing activity boosted air cargo volumes, with Asian airlines registering an encouraging 8.2% increase in air cargo demand during the first two months of the year."
Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman added, "The ongoing positive global economic momentum provides continued optimism for further expansion in the aviation markets in the coming months. Nevertheless, the recent rise in protectionist rhetoric poses some risks to trade and business activity. Overall, Asian airlines continue to exercise vigilance in identifying any further changes in operating conditions, whilst seeking opportunities in growth markets."