KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Air cargo demand in Asia slumped 23.6 percent in January while passenger numbers dropped 7.8 percent, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said Friday. "The collapse in world trade is having a severe impact on airfreight demand, forcing airlines to temporarily ground a number of dedicated freighter aircraft," association director general Andrew Herdman said in a statement. "Passenger travel demand is also weak, with premium traffic particularly hard hit as businesses seek to cut costs in response to the global economic downturn." The association said that the number of international passengers carried by its member airlines dropped 7.8 percent to 11.4 million in January 2009 compared to a year ago. Average passenger load was down nearly five percentage points to 73.9 percent. In the cargo sector, there was a 23.6 percent decline in international freight tonne kilometres in January compared to the same period a year ago, it said.