Covid-19 continued to weigh heavily on Asia Pacific airlines in May, with international air passenger markets “close to a standstill” while air cargo “weakened”.
Preliminary May 2020 traffic analysis from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) saw air cargo demand in May, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), fall by 19.0% year-on-year.
AAPA reported: “With offered freight capacity decreasing by 20.1% for the month, the average international freight load factor rose just marginally, by 0.9 percentage points to 60.9%, reflecting the capacity crunch experienced in preceding months as a result of the sharp declines in belly-hold space on passenger aircraft.”
The travel and tourism sectors were “crippled by widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions”. In aggregate, the region’s airlines carried only 785,000 passengers in May, a 97.5% decline compared to the same month last year.
AAPA director general Subhas Menon said: “The plunge in passenger demand in the month of May, and declines in air cargo volumes, underscore the immense challenges that airlines are facing.
“Overall, the region’s carriers transported more passengers and cargo compared to the previous month. But the prognosis for the industry as well as tourism and trade, remains grim.”
Menon added: “With recent consumer surveys indicating an increasingly cautious stance on air travel, the return to normalcy will likely proceed slowly, reflecting the uncertainty in the outlook, as States remain wary about lifting restrictions and continue to impose onerous conditions on travel.”
“We are hopeful that governments will act quickly to coordinate measures based on objective risk assessments that safeguard the health and well-being of the travelling public, for recovery of aviation to begin in earnest.”
Menon said that the take-off guidance issued by the ICAO Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) provides a “comprehensive set of measures” which should be adopted consistently across states.
Added Menon: “CART anticipates that flights will restart in phases, initially between States where containment of the virus is apace, and public health capability, adequate.
“AAPA remains committed to working closely with industry stakeholders to see the timely, safe and convenient recommencement of air travel in the Asia Pacific region.”