Asia Pacific airlines continued to see a downtrend in air cargo volumes for July as the persisting slowdown in global activity continued to weigh on demand for air freight transport.
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 by 0.6% year-on-year in July.
"International air cargo markets remained under pressure amid prevailing weakness in global trade activity," AAPA said in a statement.
It added that the drop in July marks "the seventeenth consecutive month of decline."
AAPA said, however, that the ongoing restoration of flights led to an increase in belly-hold cargo space, contributing to an 8.4% expansion in offered freight capacity.
As a result, the average international freight load factor declined by 5.5 percentage points to 60.9% for the month.
For the full year 2022, Asia Pacific airlines saw air cargo demand also drop by 8.2%.
"The cargo market slid further, reflecting the distinct shift in exports from goods to services," said Subhas Menon, AAPA director-general.
"Amidst a weakness in demand for both consumer and intermediate goods, Asian airlines experienced an 8.4% drop in international air cargo demand during the first seven months of the year," he added.
In contrast, AAPA reported further growth in international passenger markets, buoyed by the steady resumption of travel within the region and beyond. The gradual relaxation of travel restrictions by China, the region's largest passenger market, also drove growth in demand.
Overall, 27.2 million international passengers were carried by Asia Pacific airlines in July, a robust 146.6% increase compared to the same month last year — and demand averaged 81.4% of the corresponding month in 2019.
Looking ahead, Menon said, in the passenger business segment, demand is expected to remain strong, underpinning further growth in passenger traffic — although uncertainties in the wider macroeconomic environment, in addition to increased living costs, may eventually lead to cutbacks in spending on travel.
"The outlook for Asian airlines remains positive, as carriers continue to grow networks to meet travel demand and return gradually to profitability whilst maintaining their dedication to safety and sustainability," the AAPA chief added.