Asian carriers’ net earnings dipped 47% in 2011

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Asia Pacific airlines have reported a total net profit of $4.8 billion in 2011, a 47% decline compared with $9 billion a year ago.

The surge in oil prices and a weak cargo market contributed to the fall in earnings, says the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

Total revenues for the region's carriers rose 10% to $162 billion, compared with $147 billion reported in 2010. Passenger revenues grew by 15% to $121 billion, while cargo revenues fell by 1.4% to $22 billion in 2011.

Operating expenses increased by 15% to $155 billion, largely due to a 28% surge in fuel costs, to $52 billion. The share of fuel costs as a percentage of total expenses grew by four percentage points to 34%, from 30% in the previous year.

Asian airlines' international passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometre terms, grew by 3.7%, whereas international cargo traffic, expressed in freight tonne kilometres, fell by 4.8% in 2011.

Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, says: "Airlines around the world are still facing a number of significant challenges in 2012, including the effects of persistently high oil prices and slower economic growth in the major developed markets."

"So far this year, Asian airlines have continued to benefit from stronger economic growth within the region, seeing further growth in international passenger numbers, but air cargo markets remain weak, with the result that operating margins remain under pressure," Herdman adds.