The region’s airlines recorded a firm 7% increase in number of international passengers carried to 356.6 million in 2018, a stronger growth than was seen in the preceding year, according to preliminary figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
In revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) terms, demand increased by 6.9%, reflecting broad-based demand on both short- and longhaul markets. After accounting for a 6% increase in available seat capacity, the average international passenger load factor edged 0.6 percentage points higher to 80.6% for the year.
Commenting on the improved growth, Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, said: “New routes and frequencies provided more options to travellers, sustaining the growth in demand. In addition, while airfares rose in response to higher oil prices, ticket prices remained relatively affordable, capped by stiff competition.”
After several years of declines, passenger yields were lifted by higher average airfares and record high load factors, he further shared.
However, cost pressures continued to increase, with higher fuel expenditure driven by a 30% increase in jet fuel prices which averaged US$85 per barrel for the year, despite falling back significantly towards the end of the year.
Looking ahead, Herdman said: “Whilst expectations of continued moderate growth in the global economy should lend further support to travel markets in the coming months, there are some downside risks including weakness in trade activity and potential erosion in business and consumer sentiment. The region’s airlines are alert to such factors which may affect the market environment, but remain focused on cost management, and investing in future growth opportunities.”