Preliminary June 2020 traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed that widespread travel restrictions almost completely suppressed international air travel during the second quarter of 2020.

Asian airlines carried just 724,000 international passengers in June, a 98% decline compared to the 31.8m recorded in the same month last year. After accounting for a 93% decline in available seat capacity, the average passenger load factor was 36.3% for the month.

Air cargo demand, in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), was 20.3% lower year-on-year, as demand for exports continued to falter on the back of economic weakness and disrupted global supply chains. Offered freight capacity fell by 27.2% as most passenger aircraft were grounded, resulting in an increase in the average international freight load factor to 64.9% for the month.

Subhas Menon, AAPA Director General, said, "Overall, Asia Pacific airlines carried a total of 61m international passengers during the first half of 2020, representing a 68% fall compared to the same period last year. International travel demand evaporated in the second quarter. Most flights were only operating to repatriate people to their home countries. Meanwhile, air cargo demand declined by 16% during the first half of the year, reflecting the general deterioration in consumer and business confidence.

Looking ahead, he said, "The prospect of a recovery in travel markets during the second half of the year is increasingly uncertain, as governments grapple with a resurgence of local infections, with the re-imposition of community lockdowns and further tightening of travel restrictions.

“Uncoordinated measures between States, including blanket quarantines by some, are making international air travel extremely difficult even for those wishing to travel. Airlines in the Asia Pacific region are rapidly depleting cash reserves and incurring massive losses. It is critical for governments to recognise the debilitating impact of current policies and work co-operatively to re-establish global connectivity whilst maintaining appropriate measures to safeguard public health in line with guidance published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation."