COVID-19 impact: Air passenger number collapses in Asia Pacific, decline in cargo markets deepens on weak demand

The rapid spread of COVID-19 resulting in border closures and travel restrictions across the world forced an almost complete shutdown of international airline operations.

Asian News International May 28, 2020 18:58:38 IST
COVID-19 impact: Air passenger number collapses in Asia Pacific, decline in cargo markets deepens on weak demand

Kuala Lumpur: Asia Pacific airlines saw international passenger numbers plunge 98.8 percent year-on-year to a combined total of just 3.68 lakh passengers in April as compared to the 3.19 crore carried in the same month last year, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

The average international passenger load factor slumped to a historical low of 28 percent for the month as available seat capacity declined by 94.6 percent.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 resulting in border closures and travel restrictions across the world forced an almost complete shutdown of international airline operations.

Meanwhile, air cargo markets remained active but were affected by weakening demand and disruptions to global supply chains, including the sharp reduction in passenger belly-hold capacity, said AAPA.

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With the COVID-19 crisis escalating in many countries, community-wide lockdowns and social distancing measures dampened consumer demand leading to a marked slowdown in global trade and manufacturing activity.

As a result, Asian airlines saw air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne-kilometre fall by 28.3 percent year-on-year in April.

In addition, the grounding of most of the region's passenger fleets further reduced air cargo capacity in the market.

Although partly mitigated by additional freighter operations and the deployment of cargo-only passenger flights, offered freight capacity fell by 38.3 percent, leading to a 9.4 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor to 67.5 percent for the month.

"Uncertainty remains as to how long the crisis will persist. Nevertheless, with infection curves showing signs of flattening, it is hoped that conditions are beginning to bottom out," said AAPA Director-General Subhas Menon.

"However, patchy and uncoordinated measures across countries, including various screening protocols and often onerous quarantine requirements, are deterring passengers from flying and slowing the process of restarting aviation," he said in a statement.

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