Asia Pacific carriers continue to see robust recovery in their September passenger traffic, with load factors for the month closing in on pre-pandemic levels.

In traffic data for the month, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) notes a “strong upward momentum” in passenger recovery, despite a “worsening global economic outlook” that has led to a drop in demand in the cargo market.

In September, Asia Pacific airlines carried 11.7 million international passengers, an increase of nearly nine-fold year on year. The figure is about 39% that of pre-pandemic 2019, says the AAPA.

Singapore Changi Airport

Source: Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal

Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 in late May 2022

RPKs for the month grew about six-fold, while capacity nearly trebled year on year. The association says the sharp rise in traffic underscores the “strength of regional travel markets”.

Passenger load factor in September stood at 78%, just 0.6 percentage points shy of load factor in pre-pandemic September 2019.

States the AAPA: “The significant easing of border restrictions across most of the region’s economies continued to unleash a robust return of business and leisure travellers.”

As for cargo, demand tumbled 10% year on year, with capacity increasing about 6%, leading to a 11.6 percentage point decline in freight load factor to 64%.

AAPA director general Subhas Menon says: “The outlook for the cargo market remains subdued in the near term. Overall, the region’s airlines continue to face a challenging operating environment, with operating costs under pressure as a result of high fuel prices and weak local currencies.”

Menon is, however, more bullish about passenger traffic recovery, noting that the “resilience of the industry is shining through”.