AAPA: Strong air freight demand, international travel demand remains depressed due to COVID-19
Preliminary traffic figures for August 2021 released by the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed that international air cargo markets remain resilient, propelled by the continued expansion of e-commerce and demand for intermediate goods. On the other hand, a serious weakness in international air travel has persisted as governments have maintained strict border control measures amid escalating COVID-19 cases in the region.
For the month of August, the 1.4 million international passengers carried by the region’s airlines represented only 4% of the 34 million recorded in August 2019, highlighting the continued lack of a recovery in demand, in particular. in stark contrast to the summer months before the onset of this global health crisis. With available seating capacity averaging 13.7% of pre-pandemic levels, the load factor of international passengers remained under pressure, averaging just 34.7% in August.
Supply congestion at major export ports such as China has increased demand for freight transport by air, contributing to the 26% year-on-year growth in demand for international air freight measured in tonne-kilometers. freight rate (FTK) in August. Despite favorable demand conditions, limited cargo space resulting from low number of flights continued to constrain cargo capacity, which saw a comparatively slower increase of 17.8% year-over-year. . As a result, the average international freight load factor of 76% for the month was close to the all-time high reached in July.
Commenting on the results, Subhas Menon, Managing Director of AAPA, said: “International travel markets in Asia are stagnant, while the gradual recovery has picked up in other regions. Meanwhile, demand for air cargo continues to drive air operations in the region. While the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant indicates there is no immediate end to the global pandemic, accelerating the rollout of national immunization in a number of Asian economies is a positive step. towards the resumption of air travel, as can be seen in the gradual relaxation of border controls in certain countries. Indeed, some governments in the region have started to pave the way for the recent reopening of certain destinations to national and international arrivals. “
“Nonetheless, immunization inequity remains a major stumbling block to reopening borders in the region, especially in places that have little or no access to vaccines. With travel and tourism being key contributors to many economies in the region, the lack of progress on this front will continue to impact the many livelihoods that depend on these sectors, ”Menon said. “In addition to accelerating access to vaccines, we also call on governments to refrain from unilateral border measures that will only serve to hinder the much needed recovery of air transport and the economy in general. The AAPA continues to advocate for an objective, risk-based basis for easing border restrictions for travel without quarantine, in accordance with WHO and ICAO guidelines. “
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