Asia-Pacific Airlines Report Slower Growth in August Passenger Figures

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- The number of international passengers traveling on major airlines in the Asia-Pacific region rose 4.1 percent on-year in August but was down compared to July, indicating a slowdown in travel demand, an industry group said Wednesday.

The Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said its 17 member airlines flew 11.57 million passengers in August, compared to 11.11 million in the same month a year ago.

However, this was lower than 11.8 million passengers recorded in July, indicating a slowdown in growth.

''Growth may now be slowing as a result of the effects of high oil prices on the global economy,'' the association director general Andrew Herdman said in an e-mailed statement.

''That view seems to be given added weight by the fact that air cargo growth so far this year has been relatively weak, at 3.5 percent, and weaker still in August'' where it was up only by 1.3 percent, he added.

For the first eight months of the year, the number of passengers carried by the 17 airlines reached 85.06 million, up 6.5 percent from 79.88 million in the same period a year ago, he said.

The association has previously said travel demand prospects for the aviation industry in 2005 remain positive, though soaring fuel prices could affect profitability.

The AAPA represents 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.

Last year, the number of passengers traveling on these airlines rose to 117 million, a rise of 22.5 percent compared to 2003, signaling the industry's rebound from the 2003 SARS crisis, which caused thousands of flights to be cut as travelers avoided Asian areas hit by the outbreak.

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