The Philippine unit of Southeast Asia’s largest budget carrier said Wednesday passenger traffic fell 97 percent in the third quarter from a year ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air Asia Philippines said it flew 67,880 passengers from July to September, down from 2.10 million passengers it carried in the same period last year.
The budget airline’s load factor also declined by 30 percentage points in the third quarter to 56 percent from 86 percent in the same period last year.
AirAsia Philippines said that while it operated only 5 percent of last year’s capacity in the third quarter, passenger numbers more than doubled from the second quarter.
AirAsia Group Berhad continued its recovery momentum into the third quarter as key operational metrics improved in September compared to July, including a 36-percent increase in passengers carried by AirAsia Malaysia, 79 percent increase in passengers carried by AirAsia India and an increase of 65 percent of passengers carried by AirAsia Thailand.
Load factor for the group increased 7 percentage points in September compared to July. These improvements highlight a strong upward rebound trend for air travel demand across key markets for the group.
“Air travel is essential for the world’s economy and AirAsia is already seeing strong signs of recovery in our key domestic markets where there is much pent-up demand,” Bo Lingam, president for airlines of AirAsia Group said.
“AirAsia’s domestic services in Thailand, for example, are already close to 100-percent of pre-COVID capacity levels and there are similar strong positive signs from across the AirAsia Group including in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, indicating that forward bookings for future travel are already on the rebound in our major markets,” he said.
Lingam said positive developments on travel bubbles already being formed in Asia and numerous COVID-19 vaccines in near final stages of testing were great news for the industry.
“The general outlook is that air travel will be bouncing back real soon; we expect to get back to pre-pandemic levels on many routes across the Group by mid-2021, if not earlier. I am not alone in this prediction; it’s a common view shared by many industry colleagues—that it won’t take very long before mass tourism returns to normal globally,” he said.