(25 Aug 2021) Preliminary July 2021 traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) show another month of extremely weak international passenger volumes.
The number of international passengers carried by the region’s airlines totalled 1.5 million in July, just 4.6% of the 33 million that flew in the corresponding month of 2019.
The international passenger load factor averaged 31.8%, a sharp decline from the 82.6% achieved in July 2019. Available seat capacity for the month was 13.5% of pre-pandemic levels.
Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General said, “More than a year into the pandemic, strict border restrictions and quarantine measures continue to have a devastating impact on international air travel. By contrast, air cargo remains the single bright spot for the region’s airlines, with strong external demand boosting cargo revenue. However, this remains largely insufficient in mitigating the drastic fall in passenger volumes.”
Asia Pacific airlines recorded a 26.8% year-on-year increase in international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) in July, slightly above the volumes recorded in July 2019.
The average international freight load factor climbed by 6.2 percentage points to 76.2% for the month, after accounting for a 16.4% year-on-year increase in offered freight capacity.
“Progress in vaccination roll-outs across the region remains slow as many countries still face challenges in procuring supplies and suffer from resource constraints,” Mr. Menon added. “Some governments have announced phased reopening plans, which include setting pathways to resuming international travel, based on risk-based assessments and traveller vaccination status. For air travel to restart meaningfully in the region, more governments will need to take similar steps towards relaxing border restrictions, preferably in coordination with counterparts… The outlook for air travel is dependent on further progress with vaccinations across Asia and globally. Crucially, greater collaboration amongst governments on harmonised cross-border measures is necessary, in line with ICAO and WHO recommendations.”