Asia Pacific airlines project further growth in January but oil prices add uncertainty


Asia Pacific full service airlines started 2010 on a positive note, witnessing "firm" traffic growth for both passenger and cargo services in Jan-2011.

  • Asia Pacific full-service airlines experienced firm traffic growth for both passenger and cargo services in January 2011.
  • Passenger numbers increased by 8.0% year-on-year in January 2011, building on the growth of 8.1% in January 2010.
  • International passenger traffic increased by 6.5% in January 2011, while capacity increased by 7.8%.
  • Passenger load factor declined by 0.9 percentage points to 78.5% in January 2011.
  • International air cargo demand increased by 6.5% in January 2011, but was outpaced by a 9.3% increase in capacity.
  • Freight load factors declined by 1.7 percentage points to 65.7% in January 2011.

"For the month of January, the number of international passengers carried exceeded the December figure, underpinned by leisure travel extending from the holiday period and firm demand for premium class seats. January's freight volumes were also reasonably solid, although growth will be moderating compared to the major rebound seen in 2010," Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said.

AAPA traffic highlights for Jan-2011


% Change

Passengers (000s)



Traffic (RPKs) (mill)



Capacity (ASKs) (mill)



Passenger load factor (%)


-0.9 ppts

Cargo traffic (FTKs) (mill)



Freight capacity (FATKs)



Freight load factor (%)


-1.7 ppts

Monthly growth rates have naturally moderated as the recovery phase is completed, although both passenger and cargo traffic volumes have now surpassed their pre-recession peaks. AAPA previously stated that the outlook for 2011 remains "broadly positive".

185 million pax in 2010; 70% above 2002 levels

According to AAPA, Asia Pacific carriers handled 16.1 million international passengers in Jan-2011 for a "firm" growth of 8.0% year-on-year. This builds on growth of 8.1% in Jan-2010, after which passenger numbers increased by double-digits in every month of 2010 with the exception of Dec-2010.

AAPA passenger numbers growth and passenger load factor: Jan-2009 to Jan-2011

Traffic in 2010 increases at fastest pace in six years

International passenger traffic (RPKs) increased by 6.5% in Jan-2011 although capacity (ASKs) increased at a faster pace, by 7.8%. This marks the second consecutive month when capacity exceeded traffic growth with Dec-2010 marking the first month since Aug-2008 that capacity has grown at a fastest pace than traffic.

AAPA RPK growth and ASK growth: Jan-2009 to Jan-2011

Load factors declined 0.9 ppts to 78.5%. Once again, this marks the second month of load factor declines, with Dec-2010 being the first month of load factor contractions since Jul-2009.

AAPA PLF growth: Jan-2010 to Jan-2011

Strong rebound in air cargo demand, record freight load factor in 2010

Meanwhile, international air cargo demand (FTKs) increased 6.5% in Jan-2011, the smallest increase since Oct-2009 when cargo traffic declined by 2.4%. Cargo demand in Jan-2011 was outpaced by a 9.3% capacity (FATKs) increase.

AAPA FTK growth and FATK growth: Jan-2010 to Jan-2011

Freight load factors declined 1.7 ppts to 65.7%, again marking the second consecutive month of declines. Freight load factors improved in every month of 2010 with the exception of Sep-2010.

AAPA FLF and FLF growth: Jan-2010 to Jan-2011

Outlook for 2011 remains 'broadly positive'

Looking ahead, Mr Herdman commented: "Asia Pacific carriers are projecting further growth in aviation markets this year, with the introduction of new services and frequencies in the coming months. At the same time, Asian carriers are bracing themselves for new challenges, with sharply higher oil prices already pushing up the cost of air travel and adding to uncertainties over the outlook for continued growth in the global economy."

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