Although air passengers and flight capacity have risen in Asia Pacific in 2022, slowing global economy pressures the sector.
Asia Pacific airlines posted a five-fold increase in international
passenger numbers at 62 million in the first nine months of this year
compared to the corresponding period in 2021, the Association of Asia
Pacific Airlines (AAPA) stated.
Capacity also expanded 125% in the period, with international
passenger load rising 40 percentage points to average 70%, on the back
cross-border recovery as regional carriers add flights stimulated by
pent-up travel desire and savings.
That said, the air cargo market, often an indicator of the state of
the global economy, saw demand (measured in international freight tonne
kilometres) fall by 4.4% between January and September this year as
export orders dropped and supply chain problems mounted.
“The macro-economic outlook has weakened, with rising inflation in
many countries, stubbornly high energy prices and a strengthening US
dollar,” AAPA said in a statement during its 66th Assembly of Presidents
While lessons were learnt from managing the pandemic, the industry is
bracing to navigate the multiple headwinds in the offing due to a
moderation in the outlook for the global economy. “Overall, airline
margins remain under pressure,” it read.
On this basis, regional airline recovery is expected at only 75% of
2019 levels by the end of 2022, indicating a persisting lag behind the
rest of the world, Subhas Menon, director-general of the Association of
Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), said.
“Except for mainland China, the gradual reopening of borders in many
economies in Asia and strong recovery in air services only serve to
underscore the magnitude of pent-up travel demand,” Menon observed.
Meanwhile, as air travel gradually recovers, the airline industry is
taking extra care to maintain its outstanding safety record.
“Airlines continue to actively invest in recruitment and training to
address additional manpower needs as air travel demand is expected to
see healthy growth in the coming year,” Menon added.
On sustainability goals, airlines remain committed. “Government
support in the form of policy, investment and subsidies, particularly
for sustainable aviation fuels and carbon offsetting and reduction
scheme in aviation, will be key to the industry achieving its goal of
net zero emissions by 2050.
“Stakeholders, including fuel suppliers, whose investment and
commitment to support the energy transition, will need to work closely
together in order to achieve this ambitious goal,” he said.
Going forward, air travel in Asia Pacific in 2023 remains positive,
he said, although it would experience some “significant” downside risks,
including ongoing geo-political tensions which could undermine
“Despite the softening of the global economic outlook, Asia Pacific
airlines are well-placed to see traffic volumes recover closer to
pre-pandemic levels if demand continues to stay strong,” he shared.