Passenger traffic among Asian carriers grew 7% in January, as air traffic demand continues to recover.

International RPKs among the 15 member airlines of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) and eight non-member carriers rose 7% from a year ago. The total number of international passengers carried by all 23 airlines grew 8% to 14.9 million.

This is the first time that the AAPA is including the traffic data of eight non-member airlines in its monthly consolidated traffic results.

The eight airlines are: Qantas Airways, Air New Zealand (ANZ), Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, AirAsia, Virgin Blue, and Jetstar. Qantas and ANZ said recently that they were not renewing their AAPA membership.

Capacity, as measured by ASKs, was cut 0.7%, says the AAPA. As a result, the international passenger load factor grew 5.6 percentage points to 78.6%.

In terms of cargo, total freight tonne kilometres grew 33%, adds the association.

"After two extremely difficult years, the initial signs for 2010 are quite encouraging. Nevertheless, it is still a very challenging operating environment," says AAPA director general Andrew Herdman.

"Despite welcome signs of an ongoing recovery in demand, airlines are still facing an uphill battle to restore profitability in the face of stubbornly high oil prices, whilst low ticket prices reflect competitive forces and under-utilised capacity across the industry as new aircraft deliveries outpaced demand growth."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news