Asia-Pacific air traffic to remain down during 2021

The agency says traffic is likely to increase in China first.
The agency says traffic is likely to increase in China first.

Fitch Ratings forecasts that key airlines’ traffic in the region will remain below pre-pandemic levels for the rest of the year

Macau.- The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has reported that passenger traffic at Asia Pacific airlines will remain below pre-pandemic levels for the remainder of 2021.

The agency wrote: “The pace of the recovery will hinge on each market’s relative success in bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control, helping to improve passenger confidence and reduce the risk of further travel restrictions, as well as its share of international traffic, which we expect to stay weaker than domestic volume”.

Fitch sees some differences among countries in the region. Mainland China, for example, has witnessed a rapid recovery in air passenger traffic and may see rising monthly domestic revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) in October due to its successful efforts in containing the pandemic.

RPK is a way of calculating the number of kilometres travelled by paying customers by multiplying the number of paying passengers by the distance travelled.

The rating agency said its forecasts were based on the assumption that a vaccine or treatment will not become available at scale in 2021. However, the agency has considered the progress in the control of the pandemic.

Fitch added: “Airline passenger volume could improve faster than we forecast if an effective vaccine is distributed sooner than we believe or if there is more success in containing the pandemic.

“However, we foresee flat demand in 2021 that is well below the 2019 base should there be limited progress on this measure”.

Fitch noted that annual declines in monthly RPK have been narrowing over the last few months, with 2020 overall now expected to record a 40 per cent year-on-year drop, with domestic RPKs down by around 30 per cent.

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