Airfreight demand in the Asia-Pacific region continued to suffer the impact of the trade tensions between China and the United States, with preliminary traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showing a 9.1% year-over-year drop in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) for April 2019.
According to AAPA, the air cargo volumes of its member airlines contracted because of disruptions to global supply chains and further declines in new export orders affecting trade activity. In particular, the fall in air shipment volumes coincided with production declines in the region’s technology equipment sectors, the trade group said.
Against the drop in demand, available freight capacity increased slightly by 0.4%, year-over-year, causing a decrease of 6 percentage points in the average international freight load factor to 57.3% for April. Overall, from January to April 2019, capacity was up 1.4%, while the load factor fell by 4.8 percentage points to 57.5%.
Andrew Herdman, director general of the AAPA, said that air cargo volumes have been on the decline since the last quarter of 2018, due to unresolved trade disputes, with demand having fallen by 6.3% during the first four months of 2019, compared to the same period last year.
“The current trade tensions and further erosion in business confidence could undermine growth prospects going forward, even though demand for international air travel is expected to remain relatively firm,” he said. “The region’s airlines are proactively exploring new opportunities for growth, whilst carefully managing capacity expansion and implementing measures to contain costs in a bid to navigate successfully through the ongoing challenges.”
Data from the association showed that, despite air cargo demand growing more slowly, Asia-Pacific airlines grew their revenues and yields in 2018.