Air cargo markets continued to remain weak, according to the preliminary traffic figures put out by Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) for March.
International air cargo demand, in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms, declined by 4.5 per cent compared to the same month last year, a reflection of lacklustre export-import markets, AAPA said in a press release. Offered freight capacity contracted by 4.1 per cent, resulting in a marginal 0.2 percentage point fall in the average international air cargo load factor for the region’s carriers to 69.3 per cent for March.
Passenger traffic, however, saw a rise of 10.6 per cent more than in the same month last year. Ascribing this to an improvement in business travel markets, Asia Pacific carriers saw a combined total of 17.2 million international passengers in March. International passenger demand, as measured in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms, grew by 9.4 per cent, while available seat capacity expanded by 5.6 per cent, resulting in a 2.7 percentage point increase in the average international passenger load factor to 76.8 per cent.
Commenting on the results, AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said, “International air cargo traffic for the first quarter fell by 4.1 per cent year-on-year, reflecting a soft market and lingering concerns over weakening consumer demand, particularly in Europe.” He also pointed out that the global macro-economic outlook was still overshadowed by the potentially dampening effects of stubbornly high oil prices, and poor growth prospects in Europe, but Asian economies were still delivering robust growth. “Nevertheless, airline margins remain under pressure from high fuel costs, focusing attention on further efforts to tightly control costs and carefully match capacity to market demand.”