Asia Pacific airlines recorded another month of cargo decline in April — following a downtrend seen since the start of the year as muted trade activities continued dampened demand for air shipments.
Preliminary April 2023 traffic figures released by the Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed international air cargo demand — measured in freight tonne-kilometres (FTK) — falling 5.5% year-on-year against the background of global economic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions.
"Export activity remained relatively muted, held back by declines in new business orders and trade barriers due to geopolitical tensions. The easing of supply chain pressures globally also encouraged a shift to maritime shipping," AAPA said in a statement.
For the period, offered freight capacity continued to increase 10.4%, the average international freight load factor declined markedly by 10.1 percentage points to 59.8% for the month.
Subhas Menon, AAPA director general drew the contrast between the recovery in passenger traffic flows — with a growth of 438% year-on-year — and the slump in air cargo.
"In contrast, air cargo markets fell 11% during the same period, underlining the challenging business environment amid rising uncertainty in global economic conditions," he said.
Looking ahead, the AAPA chief noted growth prospects for international passenger markets supported by positive trends in forward bookings over the coming months.
Menon did not issue an outlook for air cargo, but noted that to meet strong recovery in demand, Asian airlines are working with aviation stakeholders to restore flights to various destinations, while prioritising safety, sustainability, and travel convenience.
These measures include staff recruitment, training, and investments in the digitalisation of the travel process, among others.