The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines has released its 2009 year end data, showing that member airlines carried 5.7 per cent less passengers than 2008, although capacity cuts helped to lessen the impact on load factors.
For the year, member airlines carried 132.9 million passengers, while revenue passenger kilometres reduced by 6.5 per cent, driven by weakness in longhaul markets. As a result, airlines cut capacity by 6.1 per cent, which saw load factor fall by only 0.4 percentage points to 74.6 per cent.
Cargo fared worse, with freight tonne kilometres down by 11 per cent for the year. Again, as airlines cut capacity to meet lower levels of demand, load factor remained steady at 66.1 per cent.
AAPA director general Andrew Herdman said that Asian carriers are expected to pose significant losses for the 2009 calendar year. “We have been through downturns before, but none as severe as we’ve experienced in the past two years,” he said. “As a result of the global recession, demand for passenger travel and air cargo shipments both recorded sharp falls. The business impact on airlines was even more dramatic as the collapse in corporate travel and intense price competition in a shrinking market saw airline revenues falling by 20-25 per cent.”
Nevertheless, Herdman noted that traffic trends over recent months showed that the global economic recovery was starting to push up passenger and cargo traffic. “Asia Pacific airlines remain focused on conserving cash, rebuilding damaged balance sheets, and carefully managing capacity to match demand as they work towards restoring profitability,” he said. “Whilst we remain hopeful about future prospects, the outlook for 2010 very much depends on the sustainability of what still appears to be a rather fragile global economic recovery.”