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Asia-Pacific cargo remains sluggish

By control on September 26, 2011

Despite heightened passenger traffic, August cargo volumes fell considerably for Asia-Pacific carriers, with tonnage dropping 5.8 percent, year-over-year. These losses, combined with reduced cargo capacity, paint a dismal picture for Asia-Pacific freight operations, according to officials from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

Capacity declined 3.1 percentage points in August, with international freight load factor falling to 64.5 percent. It was a slip that happened steadily throughout the year; load factor for Asia-Pacific carriers slid from 70.4 percent in the first eight months of 2010 to 67 percent in the same period of 2011.

Annual cargo volumes were also down significantly for Asia-Pacific carriers. Freight tonne kilometers dropped from 42,275 in the first eight months of 2010 to 40,675 in January-to-August 2011, a year-over-year plunge of 3.8 percent.

Offsetting these declines, however, were increased passenger volumes and revenue. Asia-Pacific carriers welcomed 17 million passengers in August, a year-over-year improvement of 3.9 percent. Available seat capacity also rose in the month in question, growing 6 percent from August 2010.

To AAPA Director General Andrew Herman, these numbers signal mixed results for Asia-Pacific carriers. Although the strong passenger volumes reassure him, Herman points to the region’s sluggish cargo performance, calling the demand for airfreight “relatively weak.” And sky-high fuel prices and troubled global markets are only compounding this issue, he said.

Still, Herman remains cautiously optimistic about Asia-Pacific carriers’ future performances. “Overall, Asia-Pacific airlines are in a relatively favorable position, given many of the region’s economies are still reporting solid growth,” he said in a statement. “However, the recent deterioration in the global economic outlook is cause for concern and could potentially undermine both business and consumer confidence, leading to a more cautious view on medium-term growth prospects.”

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