The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) released preliminary November 2020 traffic figures which highlighted the lack of progress in the revival of international travel with demand still held back by ongoing border restrictions amid resurgence in COVID-19 infections in various countries. Meanwhile, air cargo markets were a silver lining for the region’s carriers, supported by recovery in global manufacturing activity.

International trade flows continued to rebound in November, buoyed by acceleration in new export orders. As a result, cargo volumes carried by the region’s airlines increased for the third consecutive month, although demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) was still down 11.3% year-on-year. Airlines increased capacity by deploying converted passenger aircraft and maximising dedicated freighter utilisation, helping to ease capacity shortages as reflected in the 6.7 percentage point increase in the international freight load factor to average 69.5% for the month.

Commenting on the results, AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said, “Whilst the recovery in global economic activity has broadened across sectors, international travel remains crippled by border closures affecting 60% of Asia Pacific destinations. The recent escalation in COVID-19 cases and emergence of variant strains, have resulted in the re-imposition of stricter travel restrictions by several States.”

Menon added, “The near-term outlook for the airline industry remains extremely challenging. Governments need to move ahead with plans to implement harmonised testing protocols as a part of a multi-layered and risk-based approach towards safely restoring air travel, at the same time as vaccinations are rolled out across the world.”

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