International passenger demand has been almost completely suppressed since April as a result of ongoing border closures and other onerous forms of travel restrictions, preliminary July traffic figures released on Thursday by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed.
Reflecting the depressed operating conditions, Asia Pacific airlines carried only 844,000 international passengers in July, representing levels of less than 3 per cent of 33.4 million passengers carried in the same month last year. Offered seat capacity was at 8.3 per cent of the levels operated last year, resulting in a low 33.2 per cent average international passenger load factor for the month.
Meanwhile, following a modest recovery in the global manufacturing sector, Asian airlines saw relatively stable demand for international air cargo shipments, although traffic measured in freight tonne kilometre terms was still 16 per cent below the levels seen in the same month last year.
The average international freight load factor was 10.4 percentage points higher at 69.7 per cent for the month, reflecting the sharp reduction in belly-hold cargo capacity following the grounding of most international passenger service operations.
AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said international border closures affecting more than 50 per cent of destinations worldwide and other forms of onerous travel restrictions continue to cripple international travel.
“Prospects for a more substantive recovery of the aviation industry are stalled as a result, severely impacting the wider travel and tourism sector. It is critical that governments act urgently to review existing restrictions and prepare for the safe reopening of borders, implementing appropriate risk management protocols in line with ICAO CART recommendations.”
Menon said several states and industry bodies are evaluating various COVID-19 testing regimes that could facilitate international air travel without the imposition of blanket quarantine requirements.”AAPA remains committed to exploring further pragmatic initiatives with governments and other relevant stakeholders, and to progressively reopen international air travel corridors in a safe and secure manner,” he said.