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Thu, 28 April 2022

Asia Pacific Airlines Report 205.4% Increase in RPK

(28 April 2022, 11:56 +07)  Preliminary traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) for March 2022 show improved growth in international passenger demand, as more Asian economies eased travel restrictions in a bid to welcome back visitors after two years of lockdowns and strict border control measures.

The number of international passengers carried by the regions airlines almost tripled to a combined 3.5 million compared to the same in March 2021, when the regions airlines carried just 1.2 million passengers. Nevertheless, demand remained a low 10.8% of the 32.5 million passengers carried in the pre-pandemic month of March 2019, as borders in the region reopened at a slow pace.

Measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), international passenger demand jumped by 205.4% year-on-year, surpassing a 64% year-on-year expansion in available seat capacity. As a result, the average international passenger load factor rose significantly, by 23.9 percentage points to 51.6% in March, surpassing the 50% mark for the first time since the pandemic took hold.

Thai Smile A320 reg: HS-TXR. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
Thai Smile A320 reg: HS-TXR. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

Meanwhile, after a relatively steady start to the year, rising headwinds on multiple fronts dampened trade activity. Production disruptions and congestion at Chinas major ports, together with international trade sanctions in relation to the Ukraine-Russia war, strained global supply chains.

These challenging conditions had some short-term effects on the regions air cargo markets. International air cargo demand as measured in international freight tonne kilometres (FTK) recorded its first monthly year-on-year decline, by 1.3%, after 14 consecutive months of growth, although this was mitigated by still strong demand from the major economies.

Growth in commercial passenger operations helped drive a 5.1% year-on-year expansion in offered freight capacity, resulting in a 4.5 percentage point decline in the average international freight load factor to 70.4% for the month.

After two years of coping with the pandemic, a growing number of Asian governments have begun to treat COVID19 as endemic, as high vaccination levels are achieved in parallel. The progressive reopening of borders and easing of restrictions, including the removal of quarantines for vaccinated travellers and reduced testing requirements, have positively impacted international travel demand, said Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General. However, some uncertainty remains, as the pace of reopening continues to vary across the region, with some governments taking a more cautious approach. Major markets such as China and Japan remain largely closed off to international visitors. More broadly, elevated fuel prices and inflation across major economies, as well as the weakening of selected Asian currencies, may also affect the pace and extent of recovery in the regions travel markets.

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