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Asia Pacific airlines forge ahead in post-recessionary world

Heightened competition and high fuel costs pressure profitability of the airline industry in Asia Pacific according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines AAPA.

HONG KONG – Innovative Asia Pacific airlines continue to forge ahead in a post recessionary world, with the region’s carriers having played a pivotal role in the reshaping of the industry over the past five years.  Heightened competition from within and outside the region and persistently high fuel costs continue to exert pressure on Asia Pacific carrier profitability, but regional economic growth and strong passenger demand create cause for overall optimism.  As a result, delegates gathering for this year’s Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents meeting in Hong Kong over the next two days are expected to be in a positive frame of mind.
With its reputation for innovation further strengthened through strategic realignments and multi-faceted airline offerings, the Asia Pacific air transport industry has proved itself to be extremely resilient in recent years.  Both network and low cost carriers, along with other innovative airline business models have widened offerings to the region’s travelling public, with a cross fertilisation of ideas amongst competitors with different business models significantly narrowing many of the earlier product and pricing differentials.  Indeed, the region’s leading  network carriers continue to invest heavily in improvements to premium class cabins, whilst low cost carriers are now launching long-haul services with some premium class offerings at extremely competitive prices.
Although there are some signs that the worst of the slump in air cargo demand in recent years is now over, Asia Pacific carriers with major dedicated freighter fleets look forward to the growth in world trade returning to pre-recessionary levels in order to achieve meaningful returns on their investments in the latest generation freighter aircraft.  Whilst the long-term outlook for air freight remains encouraging, profitability for Asian carriers with major freighter fleets will continue to be negatively impacted by the current overhang of excess freighter capacity.  AAPA does not see a fundamental shift in the commitment to use air freight to ship high value and time-sensitive goods.  The current situation is simply a reflection of sluggish international trade flows, which are similarly affecting the maritime freight industry.
“With international passenger traffic growing steadily and the world economy gradually pulling out of recession, Asia Pacific carriers have good reason to be optimistic.  Having tightly controlled costs and invested heavily in the latest generation of fuel efficient aircraft in recent years, airlines from the region are well equipped to compete vigorously amongst themselves and with carriers from outside the region,” said Andrew Herdman, Director General, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.  “Achieving a broader recovery in the air freight business of Asian carriers is a more prolonged process, which will very much depend on world trade growth rates returning to more normal levels.”
AAPA continues to play a critical role in addressing the key issues that affect the efficient operation of all carriers in the Asia Pacific region.  Safety, Security, Environment, Passenger Facilitation, Taxes and Infrastructure are all of common concern to Asia Pacific carriers.  AAPA is dedicated to ensuring a strong, efficient and profitable Asia-Pacific air transport industry for the long term to support wider economic and social development.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.