Preliminary traffic figures released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed that nternational air cargo volumes in January were soft, in part due to the closure of factories in Asia for the Lunar New Year holiday season.
While passenger travel was busy ahead of the holidays, up 2.7 per cent year-on-year (YoY), cargo was in its traditional decline as factory production shuts over the Lunar New Year period.
Overall, international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) fell by 4.0 per cent YoY in January, whereas offered freight capacity grew by 2.7 per cent. As a result, the average international freight load factor declined by 3.7 percentage points to 53.0 per cent for the month.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general says: “The year started on a positive note, with further growth in demand for air travel recorded in January.”
“However, the renewed optimism was short-lived, as we are now in uncharted territory with the COVID-19 outbreak having had a very significant economic and social impact, leading to sharp falls in China-related traffic and wider effects on Asia Pacific travel and tourism markets, as well as severely disrupting global manufacturing supply chains.”
Herdman adds: “Airlines have responded to the sharp falls in demand by reducing the number of flights operated across route networks whilst striving to maintain international connectivity. The proliferation of uncoordinated travel advisories and border restrictions imposed by governments, whilst well-intentioned, are inconsistent with WHO recommendations and International Health Regulations, and only serve to amplify public concern.
“Overall, airlines continue to monitor developments closely, whilst taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and staff members. From a business perspective, the impact of reduced demand is expected to lead to billions of dollars in lost revenue, mainly suffered by Chinese carriers and other Asia Pacific airlines. Airlines are therefore focusing closely on making associated cost reductions and conserving cash resources in order to survive the current downturn, whilst remaining ready to respond positively as and when the situation shows signs of improvement.”