Asia-Pacific airlines enjoy healthy traffic growth, setting the stage for the AAPA Presidents’ Gathering in November.
The correlation between the end of travel restrictions and the recovery of airlines in the Asia Pacific is becoming more apparent every month. In September, the region’s airlines carried 11.7 million passengers, compared with 1.4 million in the same period last year.
The Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) released the figures yesterday, and as encouraging as they are, passenger volumes are still only 39% of 2019 levels. face-to-face meetings since the pandemic shut down aviation.
With traffic on the rise, presidents are likely to feel good and optimistic about the future of their industry, despite the macroeconomic and geopolitical clouds hanging over them. It is a good sign that the gathering is in Thailand, the land of smiles, and the meeting in Bangkok is being hosted by Suvadhana Sibunruang, Acting CEO of Thai Airways International. Some of the agenda items include sustainability, future growth opportunities, regulatory challenges and the impact of a strong US dollar on operating costs.
Going back to the September operating results, the airline managed capacity extremely well, increasing passenger load factors to 78% compared to 33.4% in September 2021. While revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) increased by 575% from last year, available seat kilometers (ASK) ) were limited to an increase of 189.6%, leading to an increase in load. In the nine months from January to September, load factor stands at 69.6%, more than double the same period in 2021. September’s 78% load factor is just 0.6% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels, reflecting a disciplined approach by airlines. they adapt the growing demand to the available capacity.
AAPA CEO Subhas Menon described September as an “encouraging recovery in international travel” and a sign that “the resilience of the industry is shining.
AAPA includes its dataset from 40 Asia-Pacific carriers, including major Chinese airlines China Eastern, Air China, China Southern and Juneyao Air. Assuming China reopens travel at some point, regional traffic will return well past pre-COVID levels, which is good news for carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Thai Airways.
Thai Airways (Thai) has been going through some tough times lately, although its recovery from bankruptcy took a positive step last week. Thailand’s recovery plan won support from nearly 80% of its creditors and approval from Thailand’s central bankruptcy court, putting the airline on course to return to financial health.
A scan of fleet data from ch-aviation.com shows that Thai is operating 36 of its 65 wide-body aircraft, although this statistic is somewhat skewed by aircraft that may not return to service even in the promised better days. Six Airbus A380s and eight Boeing 747-400s are inactive, and while the A380s are relatively young, the 747s have an average age of 24 years. Eight A330-300s are also parked, meaning entire fleets of the three types are inactive. Flying takes place with ten A350s, nineteen 777s and seven 787s.