The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said international air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) recorded a 5.1% year-on-year increase for Asia Pacific carriers in January.
This is on top of the strong 20.2% annual increase achieved for the full year 2021, said AAPA.
The international freight load factor for January fell slightly, by 2.2 percentage points to a still elevated 69.4%, after accounting for an 8.5% year-on-year expansion in offered freight capacity.
Growth in international air cargo markets in January was underpinned by increased shipments ahead of the Lunar New Year festive period, said AAPA. In addition, global manufacturing activity, while moderating slightly due to Omicron related disruptions, remained largely supportive.
Commenting on the results, Subhas Menon, AAPA director general, said: “Air cargo is a bright spot for Asian airlines, with strong demand for air shipments continuing unabated in January. While year-on-year growth rates are expected to moderate in the coming months, conditions for air cargo remain positive, in tandem with further expansion in global economic activity.”
He added: “Airlines still face challenging operating conditions. The current escalating conflict in Ukraine may have a wider operational and economic impact on Asian airlines, whilst elevated fuel prices threaten to suppress earnings in an industry already struggling to survive. While travel restrictions have been relaxed, much more progress can be achieved to increase confidence in the travel process, with greater harmonization and easing of cross border travel measures based on risk assessment.”
Last year carriers from the region saw their international cargo traffic increase by 20.1% year on year to 72.3bn freight tonne kms. This compares with a 15.4% year-on-year decline in 2020.