Aviation article(s)
June 28, 2022

Asia Pacific airlines saw another month of the downtrend for air cargo as prevailing supply chain disruptions and slowing demand placed further brake on global trade activity.


The Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said Asia Pacific airlines saw international air cargo demand — measured in freight tonne-kilometers (FTK) — fell 5.6% year-on-year in May.


This comes as APAC airlines already recorded an 8.5% year-on-year drop in cargo volumes for April, and another 1.3% drop in March after 14 consecutive months of growth.


"Prevailing supply chain disruptions and slowing demand further stymied global trade activity. This, in turn, led to a 5.6% year-on-year decline in international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) in May," AAPA said.


It noted, however, that offered freight capacity expanded by 1.0% year-on-year compared to the same month last year as more passenger flights resumed operation offering more bellyhold space.


Cloudy global economic outlook


Meanwhile, Asia Pacific airlines saw a consequent 4.8 percentage point decline in the international freight load factor to an average of 69.4% for the month.


"After a buoyant 2021, air cargo demand is facing some headwinds with export orders facing downward pressures, driven by waning business confidence levels amid an increasingly cloudy global economic outlook," commented Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General.


This is in contrast with the recovery seen in passenger numbers in the region for the month. 


AAPA said the number of international passengers carried by Asia-Pacific airlines increased more than "five-fold" to a combined total of 7.3 million, with demand rising to 23.6% of volumes recorded in May 2019 driven by the lifting of travel restrictions that unleashed a robust return of travellers since the pandemic.


Menon warned of caution, however, as challenges remain.


"As the region's airlines emerge from the deepest and most prolonged crisis ever faced, keeping a lid on costs remains vital, as escalating fuel expenditure, higher labour, and maintenance costs, on top of substantially heavier debt burdens, threaten to undermine the already fragile financial recovery," the AAPA chief said.


"In addition, airlines face increasing operational constraints as the air transport eco-system strives to keep up with the ramp-up in demand," he added.

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