Asia Pacific airlines will continue to face a stretch in this year, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), attributed to continued concerns over the global economy, unresolved trade conflicts and fresh risks brought by the coronavirus outbreak.
AAP said, in particular, cargo traffic faces uncertainty over these risks following a slowdown already recorded in 2019 were international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) fell by 5.1%, following the 1.6% decline registered in the previous year.
Offered freight capacity, however, grew by 1.3%, resulting in a 3.9 percentage point drop in the average international freight load factor to 59.5% for the year.
Commenting on the 2019 results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, "air cargo markets experienced a very challenging 2019, with the 5.1% drop in demand marking the steepest fall since the global financial crisis."
Declines in new export orders throughout the course of the year led to lower demand for air shipments, he added.
“Overall, in 2019, Asian airlines faced an intensely competitive operating environment, with downward pressure on yields and profitability, only partially alleviated by the 7.2% fall in global jet fuel prices to an average of US$79 per barrel for the year,” Herdman said.
Uncertainty on global economy, trade wars, coronavirus
Looking ahead to 2020 Herdman outlined the challenges that Asia-Pacific airlines are already facing.
“The general outlook for 2020 was already clouded by uncertainty over prospects for the global economy and still unresolved trade disputes. The recent 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak has now been categorised by the World Health Organization as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The related imposition of travel restrictions and widespread public concern has led to significant falls in demand for air travel on routes to/from and within China, and corresponding adjustments to airline schedules," he said.
"Airlines continue to closely monitor further developments, and are operating in accordance with established standards and practices developed in conjunction with public health authorities regarding outbreaks of communicable diseases,” he added.