Asia-Pacific Airlines Handled 16.7 Million Passengers in 2021, Over 95% Down From Pre-Pandemic Levels

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region handled only 16.7 million passengers in 2021, which is more than 95% less than that of pre-pandemic levels.

International passenger load factor in the region was a low 32%, to which Subhas Menon, the Director-General of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) went into more detail about:

“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.”

Photo Credit: Charlie Carter/AviationSource

“As vaccination programs got underway, some governments began to ease travel restrictions in the latter part of the year, supporting some improvement in the number of international passengers carried in December to 7.6% of 2019 volumes.”

“However, the emergence of the Omicron variant has put the brakes on recovery.”

Cargo, on the other hand, did extremely well in the region, with the freight tonne kilometers rising by 20.1% year-on-year.

International freight load factors climbed by nearly 7.5% to 74.3%, which was the highest annual average on record.

Menon added to this, as well as commenting on the resilience of the region:

“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”.

Photo Credit: Joris Wendt

“Overall, whilst 2021 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years for the region’s airlines, it has also demonstrated the industry’s extraordinary resilience as airlines continue to play a vital role in connecting people and transporting essential goods across the world.”

“For meaningful recovery to take place, border restrictions would need to be eased on a consistent basis, and the current multi-layered travel requirements streamlined and simplified for travelers. Collaboration among aviation stakeholders and governments is key to the safe and sustained resumption of air travel.”

All eyes are going to be on the Asia-Pacific region, particularly on the passenger front, as governments will no doubt be pressured to reduce restrictions in 2022 so then passengers can get flying again.

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