Aviation article(s)
February 15, 2024
Asia is poised to increase its market share of the total cargo traffic at a global level this year, according to the latest Airport Industry Outlook, released by Airports Council International Asia-Pacific & Middle East (ACI APAC & MID), citing continued growth prospects in the region despite ongoing geopolitical tensions across the globe.
Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East, noted a report by the International Monetary Fund, which said Asia is on track to deliver two-thirds of global growth in 2024 and remains the key engine of economic growth in the world.
"This is reflected in the consistent positive trends in traffic and finances with airports in our region, which in 2024 is expected to reach a market share of almost 40% of the total passenger and cargo traffic at a global level," he said.
"From 2024 onwards, we hope that the expression 'pre-COVID recovery' with reference to Asia will soon become obsolete in our vocabulary."
"While still navigating macroeconomic and geopolitical risks, we remain optimistic about growth prospects in the region, with our estimates suggesting Asia-Pacific to record 3% growth and the Middle East to consolidate its upward trajectory with a growth of 14% over 2019 levels," Baronci further said.
Meanwhile, ACI APAC & MID noted that geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East are a "matter of concern," especially if they will be protracted for a long period and require a high degree of adaptability.
"The Red Sea crisis is no exception; a vital route for international shipping has forced many ships to reroute around Africa, extending both time and expense for their journeys," the report said.
"As such, shippers may seek to switch to air cargo, prompting airlines to potentially raise air cargo rates," it added.
On the other hand, ACI APAC & MID noted that the stimulating demand for air cargo may prove to be an advantage for airports, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
For the period, cargo load factors (CLFs) remained steady at 43% in Q3 2023, comparable to pre-pandemic levels of 46% in 2019 (full year) but below the peak of 58% in Q1 2021.
Notably, Asia-Pacific CLFs surpassed the global average, increasing from 44% in Q2 2023 to 46% in Q3 2023, although still lower than the 2021 full-year average of 66%.
The report added that the Middle East CLFs, marginally below the global average, decreased from 43% in Q2 2023 to 41% in Q3 2023.
ACI APAC & MID, on the other hand, presented a positive trend in the recovery of passenger traffic and airport finances.
However, it noted "macroeconomic factors" that continue to pose challenges to the overall recovery of the sector.
 "After a positive beginning to the year 2023, with China fully reopening the borders, the overall traffic in Asia-Pacific has rebounded to almost 90% of the pre-pandemic levels; the Middle East stood out, recording a growth of nearly +4% compared to the 2019 figure," Baronci said.
"The outlook for 2024 remains positive, with the expectation of a full recovery of the Asia-Pacific region in 2024. Over the same year, the Middle East is expected to confirm its trajectory of growth with a record year above 450 million passengers. Asia-Pacific and the Middle East should look at the future with cautious optimism," it added.
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