The Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA), the trade association of major scheduled international airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region, has reported an astonishing 821% increase in international passengers for August.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General, mentioned:

''The healthy growth in international passenger traffic in the first eight months of the year shows strong travel demand from business and leisure sectors, even as persistently high inflation curtailed spending elsewhere.''

For August 2021, the region recorded passenger numbers of 1.4 million, compared to this year's results of 13.1 million.

Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-900
Garuda Indonesia is one of 13 airlines represented in the AAPA. Photo: Garuda

Airlines represented

Combined, the association represents approximately one-third of global air passenger traffic and one-third of international air cargo traffic and represents these airlines:

Available seat capacity for the region increased by 174.5 % compared to 2021. As a result, the international passenger load factors jumped by 42.3 % to an average of 77.9 % for August.

An increase in passenger numbers has boosted demand, however, demand for exports dwindled, further diminishing air cargo markets. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Cargo concerns

Demand for cargo has further dampened, dropping 7.9% compared to 2021, with average loads in the region sitting at 66.4 %.

Speaking in regard to the waning cargo demand, AAPA Director General Mr Subhas Menon commented:

''After more than two painful years into the pandemic, the region’s carriers are finally beginning to see some relief with the continuing upswing in passenger revenue, even as the cargo business remains weakened. Although cost pressures driven by high jet fuel prices and currency weakness have not abated, the rebound in travel markets will help support an improvement in the regional airline earnings performance''

What does the next year look like?

Asia has been one of the last regions to open post-pandemic and remove entry restrictions. Rich in its ancient cultures, with excellent and unique architecture, exotic cuisine, welcoming people, and natural wonders, Asia ticks all the boxes for an unforgettable travel experience.

In destinations like Hong Kong, once news that the end of quarantine was announced on Friday, September 30, travel-starved locals flocked to book trips abroad. The local flag carrier Cathay Pacific set up a virtual "waiting room" to get onto its website, where hold times exceeded 30 minutes.

Online travel giant Expedia said its website also saw a 9-fold surge in search for flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo and 11-fold for flights from Hong Kong to Osaka. Though hotel quarantine may be removed, the city still imposes a 3-day period during which visitors are barred from dining in restaurants or going to bars. In addition, complicated visiting requirements, including pre-flight vaccination certificates and negative COVID-19 test results, may still deter tourists.

Hong Kong travellers will require a pre departure negative test
Source: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Other Asian countries, such as Japan, have also removed restrictions on travel. Starting on October 11, the government will allow general travelers to enter almost as they did before the pandemic.

From the AAPA report, it is clear that travel is rebounding. Even still, for some countries, there's a long way to go.

Sources: AAPA Airlines Organisation, Travel Market Report, CNN Hong Kong, Nikkei Asia