According to the latest figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), thanks to major manufacturing economies located in the region benefiting from increased trade, Asia Pacific airlines enjoyed a 9.6% improvement in international air cargo traffic – as measured in freight tonne-kilometres (FTKs) – over 2017 compared to the previous year.
Asia Pacific airlines achieved a 6.7% growth in combined operating revenue over the year, earning $176.6bn.
And the region’s carriers made $8.8bn in combined net earnings over the course of 2017.
Cargo-related revenue increased by 14.6% to $18.6bn.
Moreover, following several years of contraction, cargo yields rebounded by 6% to reach 25 US cents per FTK.
The airlines’ combined operating expenses rose by 8.7% compared to 2016 to reach $165bn. Fuel costs rose significantly, by 19.6%, AAPA said.
Andrew Herdman, AAPA’s director general, commented: “Overall, Asia Pacific carriers as a group achieved commendable earnings performance in 2017, with the solid 31.6% increase in net earnings to $8.8bn underpinned by strong growth in both air passenger and cargo volumes, and higher average load factors.
“Nevertheless, the region's airlines continued to face some significant headwinds in the form of stiff competition, and increased cost pressures from markedly higher fuel prices and rising labour costs.”
Looking forward, Herdman continued: “The ongoing expansion in the global economy bodes well for Asian airlines.
“Business activity is expected to remain relatively robust whilst increased consumer spending should underpin further growth in passenger travel and continue to support air cargo demand in the coming months.”
“Overall, Asian airlines continue to evolve in the face of changing market dynamics, implementing measures to increase efficiency and carefully control operating costs whilst seeking opportunities to maximise revenue.
“In addition, the region’s airlines remain focused on enhancing business performance through increased investments in new technologies and modern fuel efficient aircraft,” he concluded.