2015 sees Asia Pacific take-off

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Asia Pacific airlines have seen freight tonne kilometres (FTK) surge by 20.5 per cent for February driven by robust demand for Asia exports, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

FTKs reached 4.8 billion, up on the same month last year, when the FTK in the region was four billion. In February, the available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) increased by 12.6 per cent to 7.4 billion, compared to the same month last year when it was 6.6 billion. This resulted in a 4.2 percentage point rise in the average international freight load factor to 65.2 per cent, compared to the same month in 2014.

In February, the FTK was down on the 5.1 billion that was recorded in January. The AFTK figure was 7.4 billion, which was a drop on the 8.3 billion in January. The load factor of 65.2 per cent in February, was an increase of 3.4 percentage points on the 61.8 per cent in January. AAPA director general, Andrew Herdman, says: “Air freight demand achieved an impressive 12.8 per cent increase during the same two month period, with robust demand for Asian exports, particularly to North America where the recent port dispute affected some maritime shipping operations.”

For the first two months of 2015, AAPA says the FTK for Asia Pacific airlines rose by 12.8 per cent to 9.9 billion, an increase on the 8.8 billion for January to February 2014 The AFTK figure for the first two months of the year was up by 8.2 per cent to 15.7 billion, an increase on the 14.5 billion total for January and February last year. The load factor for the two-month period was up by 2.6 percentage points for January and February to 63.3 per cent, compared to the 60.7 per cent achieved in the same period in 2014.

Herdman says he is positive about the potential in the region, but says there are challenges that Asia Pacific carriers face such as volatile currency changes. “The demand outlook for Asian carriers remains broadly positive, supported by the benefits of lower oil prices. Nevertheless, Asian airlines are having to carefully match capacity growth with actual demand, whilst coping with the effects of increased currency volatility affecting both costs and revenues,” Herdman says. An example of airlines collaborating to overcome the challenges is the proposed Air New Zealand and Air China’s alliance. The airlines say it will place an importance on high value cargo.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the alliance could commence in December. The airlines say the alliance could double capacity between China and New Zealand.The deal will see New Zealand connect to the Chinese capital for the first time in three years. Air China chief executive officer, Song Zhiyong, says the alliance will allow both flag carriers to build a sustainable service between Beijing and Auckland.

In 2014, AAPA says the FTK in the region rose on 2013 by 5.4 per cent to 63.2 billion, fuelled by rising exports from the regions’ manufacturing hubs.

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