Asia-Pac hit hard

Among the hardest hit have been the Asia-Pacific carriers which IATA forecasts will see losses more than double from the US$500 million in 2008 to US$1.1 billion in 2009.

With 45 per cent of the global cargo market, the region’s carriers will be disproportionately impacted by the expected 5 per cent drop in global cargo markets next year, IATA said.

The region’s largest market – Japan – is already in recession and its two main growth markets – China and India – are expected to deliver a major shift in performance. Chinese growth will slow as a result of the drop-off in exports while India’s carriers, which are already struggling with high taxes and insufficient infrastructure, can expect a drop in demand following on from the tragic terror incidents in November.

These worst fears are already being realised with freight traffic for Asian airlines plunging 11 per cent in October, the steepest drops for the carriers since 2001 and an unavoidable sign that the downturn is worsening.

The average cargo load factor for the month fell 2.6 percentage points to 65.4 per cent while passenger load factors fell 3.1 percentage points to 73.1 per cent.

The decline in freight tonne kilometres flown, measured by the Association of Asia Pacifc Airlines, was greater than the 9 per cent drop the group reported in September, and significantly it was a decline that came in a month when air carriers are normally ramping up for the peak Christmas shipping season.