International Passenger Traffic Rises at Asian Carriers

 - February 10, 2012, 2:10 AM
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner at the Singapore Airshow. Photo by David McIntosh.

Asia Pacific-based airlines carried 190 million international passengers last year, a 3.5-percent increase from 2010, according to preliminary data released in late January by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). International passenger traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometers) climbed 3.7 percent, while capacity growth for the year edged up by 6.3 percent. Since capacity outstripped traffic demand, the average international passenger load factor fell two percentage points to 76.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Asia Pacific international air cargo demand (expressed in freight ton kilometers) fell 4.8 percent last year to 61,426, reflecting weakened world trade conditions. Since the offered freight capacity pretty much equaled that of 2010, the average international freight load factor dropped by 3.4 percentage points to 66.6 percent.

“Despite a series of natural disasters including the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, growth in international passenger traffic for Asian airlines held up relatively well in 2011,” said AAPA director general Andrew Herdman. “By contrast, the year saw air cargo demand weaken significantly compared to the restocking surge experienced in 2010, reflecting cautious management of supply chain inventories in the expectation of relatively weaker growth prospects for the major developed economies.”

For 2012, economic “uncertainty…has somewhat overshadowed the immediate outlook, and airlines worldwide are bracing themselves for another challenging year ahead,” he said. “However, Asian airlines still remain optimistic about longer-term growth prospects, as evidenced by ambitious fleet plans, ongoing service enhancements and the launch of innovative new business ventures.”