The number of airline passengers in the Asia-Pacific grew in May amid some recovery in tsunami-hit Japan but cargo demand fell due to slower global economic growth, an industry group said Friday.
The Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said Japanese outbound leisure travel and business travel have shown "welcome signs of recovery" but inbound leisure travel remained weak and it would take more time to regain public confidence.
It said in a statement that its 17 member airlines flew 14.846 million passengers in May, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier. Air cargo, however, declined nearly 10 percent, the sharpest fall this year due to slower demand for Asian exports.
Over the first five months of the year, it said its members carried 2.5 percent more passengers totaling 75.805 million but cargo declined 2.4 percent.
"The combination of slower revenue growth and sharply higher fuel costs means airline operating margins are under severe pressure. Continued vigilance in controlling costs, and carefully matching capacity to the projected changes in demand will be the key to sustaining profitability," said its director general Andrew Herdman.
The International Air Transport Association has forecast Asia-Pacific Airlines to earn combined profits of $3.7 billion this year, down from $7.6 billion in 2010.
As a group, the AAPA represents roughly one-fifth of global passenger traffic and one-third of global cargo traffic.
The AAPA's members are 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.