Preliminary traffic figures for the month of February released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed the closure of businesses during the festive period further aggravated the prevailing weakness in air cargo markets.
Air cargo markets recorded steep declines in February, as demand in freight tonne kilometre (FTK) terms saw a double-digit fall of 11.9 per cent compared to the same month last year.
AAPA said the weakness in export activity was driven by slower demand from major advanced and emerging market economies, including China.
And the fall in demand vis-à-vis the 1.2 per cent contraction in offered freight capacity led to a significant drop in the average international freight load factor, by 6.5 percentage points to 53.3 per cent for the month.
AAPA director general, Andrew Herdman said: “Air cargo markets experienced challenging conditions. Declining confidence levels contributed to further falls in new export orders, adversely affecting demand for air shipments. Taken together, the first two months of the year saw an 8.3% decline in air cargo demand for Asian carriers.”
Looking ahead, Herdman said, “The slowdown in the manufacturing sector with the ongoing softening in trade sentiment point to the likelihood of continued weakness in air cargo markets in the coming months. Nevertheless, ongoing growth in e-commerce shipments should provide some level of support to air cargo demand.”
He added: “Stimulatory fiscal policies implemented by selected economies are expected to encourage domestic spending. This should support reasonable growth in the global economy this year, sustaining continued growth in air travel markets.
“Overall, airlines remain proactive in responding to changes in demand conditions, and are exploring new avenues to boost revenue growth whilst managing costs in the face of challenging operating conditions.”