Asia Pacific airlines see 500 pct jump in demand, load factor back to normal

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Airlines in the Asia Pacific region flew 13.4 million passengers internationally in November, compared with just 1.8 million in the same month a year earlier, according to preliminary data from their trade association.

Revenue passenger kilometers, which measures demand, surged nearly 500 percent, far ahead of the 187 percent growth in seat capacity. That resulted in a 40 percentage point jump in load factor — or how many seats are filled in a plane — to 77.4 percent, close to pre-pandemic levels, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said in a statement on Thursday.

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Leisure and business travel have both experienced a strong revival following the lifting of travel restrictions, AAPA said. Air cargo demand softened, however, due to continued weakness in global manufacturing and business confidence, and as costs remained high. Average international freight load factor slid 9.3 percentage points from a year earlier to 63.9 percent in November.

“The first 11 months of the year saw a near six-fold jump in the combined number of international passengers carried to an aggregate total of 87.5 million,” AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said in the statement. “Nevertheless, in November, demand averaged only 43 percent of 2019 levels, indicating significant progress still required towards full recovery.”

“The recent reopening of China’s borders with quarantine-free travel after nearly three years of strict virus containment policies will markedly improve demand prospects, given China’s significant trade and tourism links with the region’s economies and beyond," Menon said. But he warned that fresh curbs on travelers from China could hamper the recovery.

Read more: Airlines to return to profitability in 2023 after COVID-19 restrictions ease: IATA

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