Asian Recovery Continues; Reopenings Spur Demand

Credit: Rob Finlayson

SINGAPORE—The air transport recovery in the Asia-Pacific region continues steadily, despite worsening economic conditions. 

Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) data shows August passenger volumes increased eightfold year-on-year (YOY) to 13.1 million as countries in the region gradually drop quarantine and testing requirements.

Passenger demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), for 40 airlines in the region improved fivefold, while capacity rose 174% YOY.

Air cargo continues to be under pressure. Air cargo demand, in freight ton kilometers (FTK), declined 7.9% YOY, even though cargo capacity expanded 5.2% as more bellyhold capacity became available as passenger aircraft returned to the skies.

“The healthy growth in international passenger traffic in the first eight months of the year shows strong travel demand from business and leisure sectors, even as persistently high inflation curtailed spending elsewhere,” AAPA Director General Subhas Menon says.

“Amid an increasingly gloomy macroeconomic outlook, the lifting of travel restrictions in the major North Asian markets of Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong will hasten the pace of the industry’s return to health, while full recovery is not expected until China is also open,” he adds.

The return of demand for flights to and from Japan has encouraged Singapore Airlines group (SIA) to reinstate flights and increase services. Tokyo and Osaka as well as Hong Kong and Taipei are either returning to SIA’s network or getting more frequencies.

AAPA is preparing to finally hold an in-person Assembly of Presidents for the first time since 2018. The 2019 edition was canceled due to the mass protests in Hong Kong, while the 2020 and 2021 events were held virtually due to the pandemic. The 66th AAPA Assembly of Presidents is to take place in Bangkok over Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, hosted by Thai Airways.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.