Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], June 1 (ANI): Asia Pacific airlines carried just 1.1 million international passengers in April as international passenger demand continues to linger at the significantly depressed volumes seen since a year ago, preliminary traffic figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) show.
Although this was an improvement over the same period in 2020 when international passenger volumes plunged precipitously, it represented just 3.5 per cent of passenger volumes recorded in the same month of 2019.
Available seat capacity was only 4 per cent of levels registered in 2019 with the international passenger load factor averaging 26.4 per cent for the month.
AAPA said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and surges in transmission across many Asian economies have resulted in renewed border control restrictions as well as domestic lockdowns, quelling hopes of any meaningful resumption in international travel markets.
Meanwhile, countries that have begun vaccination rollouts continue to benefit from a revival in their domestic economies which in turn fuelled demand for goods.
Accordingly, the acceleration in global trade activity continues to benefit the region's carriers which saw air cargo demand in international freight tonne kilometres grow by 42 per cent year-on-year in April, achieving volumes slightly above the same period in 2019.
Offered freight capacity rose by 29.4 per cent year-on-year, resulting in a 6.7 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor to 74.8 per cent for the month.
AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said the emergence of different variants with higher transmissibility rates has deterred Asian economies from reopening their borders with extended quarantine requirements further supressing international travel demand.
Bilateral travel corridors offer hope for a recovery, yet remain susceptible to disruptions, as evidenced by the second postponement of the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble, reflecting the extremely challenging operating conditions faced by airlines, he said.
In Asia, the relatively slow pace of vaccinations continues to undermine the region's economic recovery, in particular the travel and tourism sectors which have been badly hit," said Menon.
"Accelerating vaccination rollouts will be key to paving the way for the restart of the travel industry. However, governments are still facing numerous challenges, including supply constraints and logistical issues," he said.
Meanwhile, Asian airlines continue to play a pivotal role in supporting international efforts to save lives through the delivery of much-needed medical supplies.
However, the majority of the region's carriers, with their international passenger business severely curtailed, continue to burn through cash every month. Some airlines are undergoing major restructuring while others are raising further equity, said Menon.
Asia Pacific region's airlines carry 1,623 million passengers and 23 million tonnes of cargo, representing over one-third of global passenger and air cargo traffic, and thus play a leading role in the ongoing development of global aviation. (ANI)