For the first time, the number of flyers in the Asia-Pacific region has overtaken that of North America, and the Asian airline industry is better placed to stimulate recovery, according to recent figures.
The data reflects the much stronger economic performances of Asian economies – particularly those of China and India – compared with their western counterparts and the willingness of Asian airlines to continue to cautiously seek new routes and increase frequencies.
Last year, the number of Asia-Pacific air trips reached 647 million, versus 638 million within North America, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The survey estimates that another 217 million flights will be added in Asia-Pacific by 2013.
Despite some spectacular failures, such as crisis-ridden Japan Airlines, regional carriers are also forecast to cut their losses to US$700 million this year from US$3.4 billion last year. In total, global aviation losses are predicted to narrow to US$5.6 billion this year from US$11 billion in 2009.
Singapore Airlines has already returned to profitability. The airline reported that while it had suspended or reduced services to certain destinations such as Athens, it had increased frequencies to Auckland, Christchurch, Brisbane, Perth, Manchester, Rome and Houston (via Moscow), and since January 19, the non-stop all-Business Class service to Newark had returned to daily operations.
The airline will add Munich to its routes in March and the A380 will be deployed to Zurich. However, the airline noted it had reduced services to Athens and Dubai and will suspend routes to Pakistan and Nanjing in the next few weeks.
Other carriers this week stepped up network activity. Cathay Pacific announced it would restore flights to Seoul to pre-crisis levels (see news). Its subsidiary Dragonair said it would fly 10 times weekly up from daily to Hanoi and operate twice daily flights, instead of 12 times weekly, to Nanjing and Chengdu. Emirates added an extra daily non-stop flight between Dubai and the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, bringing the total number of weekly flights to 21.
For more details, go to www.iata.org