Sustainability was the focus of discussions amongst airline leaders gathering at the 67th Assembly of Presidents of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) in Singapore last week.

“Achieving sustainability goals is critical to the future success of the international air transport sector and its continuing role as an agent for social and economic development,” said Subhas Menon, AAPA director general.

“Extreme weather events and record temperatures in 2023 nearing global warming thresholds set by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are a clarion call for all industry players, especially governments and fuel suppliers, to step up efforts on sustainability, and to ensure that aviation is able to achieve its net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050.”

In addition to aviation sustainability, the AAPA Assembly of Presidents also celebrated the industry’s return to growth and profitability.

Asia Pacific airlines

AAPA member carriers continue to see strong recovery in air travel despite a dampened global economic climate resulting from unprecedented inflation, and aggressive monetary policies to rein it in.

In September 2023, the number of international air passengers in Asia Pacific reached 79% of 2019 levels, behind other regions given that borders in Asia only fully re-opened six to twelve months after the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, demand is robust, with international air passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) growing by 171% in the first nine months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

Seat capacity measured in available seat kilometres increased by a comparatively slower 130% in the first nine months of 2023, in part due to supply chain constraints affecting the timely delivery of new aircraft, and essential spares for maintenance.

Load factors have already recovered to pre-pandemic levels and air fares remain high on the back of strong demand for air services in the region.

“China, accounting for a fifth of the region’s international traffic before the pandemic, is still at only 54% of 2019 levels in September 2023. Excluding China, recovery of the region stands at a markedly higher 87%. Nevertheless, the return of Chinese travellers in full force will kick off another significant wave of growth for the region and global tourism,” said Menon.
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