Passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific revealed continued “decimation” in international air travel demand due to tight travel restrictions in response to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said in its 2021 report.
According to the AAPA, the ongoing pandemic has “dashed hopes” of recovery in air travel as the region’s airlines carried only 16.7 million passengers in 2021, which is just 4.4% of the volumes recorded in the pre-pandemic 2019. In comparison, the region’s airlines carried 69 million passengers in 2020 and 375.5 million passengers in 2019.
“For a second year running international passenger travel remained severely suppressed, as a result of strict border measures imposed throughout the region and elsewhere. It is the worst crisis the region’s airlines have ever faced in terms of duration and depth,” AAPA director general Subhas Menon said.
“The emergence of the Omicron variant has put the brakes on recovery,” Menon added.
However, cargo activities in Asia-Pacific remained strong. In 2021, international air cargo demand measured in freight ton kilometers (FTK) registered a 20.1% year-on-year increase.
“The air cargo business segment has been a silver lining for the aviation industry, with strong demand helping to partially mitigate the loss in passenger revenue. In FTK terms, international air cargo demand for the year 2021 has recovered to just above pre-crisis levels,” Menon explained.