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Jan 23, 2009

Asia-Pacific air travel fell 1.8 per cent in 2008

Passenger and freight traffic in the Asia-Pacific region sank in 2008 as airlines were battered by high oil prices and slumping demand, with no respite seen this year amid a global downturn, an industry group said Friday.

The Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said airlines were hurt by skyrocketing oil prices last year followed by rapidly weakening demand as the effects of the U.S. financial crisis ricocheted around the world.

Its 17 member airlines flew 141.5 million passengers, down 1.8 per cent from 144 million in 2007. Capacity grew marginally by 1.7 per cent but average passenger load factor - a measure of the number of seats filled - fell to 75 per cent from 77 per cent.

Air cargo traffic suffered a deeper decline of 6.1 per cent. The average cargo load factor was down one percentage point to 65.6 per cent even though carriers had reduced capacity, it said in a statement.

As a group, the AAPA represents roughly one-fifth of global passenger traffic and one-third of global cargo traffic.

Andrew Herdman, the association's director-general, said passenger traffic in the region held up well for the first nine months of the year, before declining 7 per cent in the October-December period.

The situation in the air cargo sector was even more dire as demand collapsed in the second half of the year, he said. In December alone, volumes were down by 24 per cent from a year earlier.

"With no sign of any respite amidst the global economic downturn, Asia Pacific airlines are braced for another extremely difficult year ahead," Herdman said.

The association did not give any growth forecast for this year.

The AAPA represents Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, Dragonair, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.

Source : AP
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