International air travel in the Asia-Pacific continued to recover in October, helped along by the easing of travel restrictions in key North Asian markets.

During the month of October, Asia-Pacific airlines carried 12 million international passengers, an eightfold increase from October 2021, according to preliminary numbers from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

ANA 787-9 San Francisco

Source: Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal

An ANA 787-9 in San Francisco International Airport in December 2021

RPKs surged sevenfold as ASKs rebounded fivefold. Load factors shot up 45.2 percentage points to 77.7%.

“The lifting of travel restrictions in North East Asia in October 2022 was welcomed by the travelling public and the region’s airlines which saw substantial improvements to load factors,” says AAPA director general Subhas Menon.

“Overall, during the first ten months of the year, the combined 74 million international passengers carried by Asian airlines represented a 472% increase compared to the previous corresponding period.”

Things are less upbeat on the cargo front. The Asia-Pacific’s international FTKs in October fell 13.9% year on year, as FATKs fell 1.2%. Cargo load factors fell 9.6 percentage points to 64.7%.

Menon notes that air cargo is suffering from falling business confidence, slowing orders for manufactured goods, and rising risks for the global economy.

Menon also warns that despite the strong recovery and good forward bookings, the region’s airlines face several challenges.

“Based on forward booking trends, the outlook for travel remains positive as we approach the final months of the year,” says Menon.

“While the recovery in air travel is welcome relief for the industry, the region’s airlines are facing a challenging operating environment, as a result of high fuel prices, weak local currencies and manpower shortages. Nevertheless, AAPA remains committed to ensuring the safe, seamless and sustainable restoration of air travel.”