News ID: 262041
Published: 0537 GMT November 25, 2019

Asian airlines cautious about outlook for 2020

Asian airlines cautious about outlook for 2020
Cathay Pacific Airways planes are seen at the Hong Kong International Airport. (REUTERS)

Asian airlines are cautious about the outlook for 2020 after trade disputes undermined confidence and led to economic growth below initial forecasts this year, the head of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said on Monday.

Airline passenger growth in Asia has moderated this year to 4.4 percent in the nine months ended Sept. 30, down from 7.7 percent for the same period in 2018, AAPA statistics showed, Reuters reported.

 Asian cargo carriage fell 5.8 percent in the first nine months of the year amid a US-China trade war.

"I think we need to be a little bit cautious," AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said of the 2020 outlook after having met Asian airline chief executives in Kuala Lumpur.

"If it turns out to be a bit better than expected then we will be ready to respond."

AAPA moved the meeting to Kuala Lumpur after cancelling plans for a larger gathering in Hong Kong, citing the ‘unpredictability’ of the situation following months of often violent protests in the city.

Several Asian airlines have cut flights to Hong Kong over the coming weeks as demand has fallen, which along with the grounding of the Boeing Co 737 MAX have made growth more challenging.

Herdman said he believed the capacity adjustments to Hong Kong would be reversed once the political situation improved and tourists returned to the city.

"The general feeling is Hong Kong will recover in due course," Herdman said. "In the short term they (airlines) need to adjust to demand as they find it."

AAPA on Monday announced Herdman, a former Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd executive, planned to depart in March after 15 years in his role.

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