Air travel picks up in India; curbs and border measures hold back recovery of Asia Pacific tourism industry

 Air travel picks up in India; curbs and border measures hold back recovery of Asia Pacific tourism industry

In terms of reopening the skies to travel, India is ahead of the Asia-Pacific countries. The difference is stark compared to China and Japan, two major domestic markets in Asia

Air travel takes over India;  Curves and border steps have hampered the recovery of the Asia Pacific tourism industry

Image representation. Reuters

Singapore: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) believes prolonged travel bans and border measures are holding back the recovery of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry.

It also said international passenger demand in the Asia-Pacific region for March reached 17 per cent at pre-COVID levels, after hovering below 10 per cent for most of the past two years.

Based on IATA data, India’s domestic passenger load factor in March 2022 was a healthy 82.3 per cent as compared to other markets. Corresponding figures for the March domestic passenger load factor in the US were 87.2 per cent and the average for other domestic markets in the world measured by the IATA was 79.2 per cent.

India’s air traffic based on passengers carried in the first three months of this year was about 70 per cent in 2019, the last full year before COVID. Based on data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the total number of passengers carried between January to March of 2022 was 24.8 million. For the same period in 2019, this figure is 35.45 million.

India is expected to reach and then exceed pre-COVID domestic passenger traffic in the coming months.

“I am very confident that in the coming days, in the coming months, within the next year, we will surpass the pre-Covid level of 415,000 daily passengers,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a air show in Hyderabad in March.

In fact, in terms of reopening the travel sky, India is ahead of its Asia-Pacific peers. The difference is even more striking compared to China and Japan, two major domestic markets in Asia.

“As long as the Chinese government continues to maintain their zero-COVID approach, it will be difficult to see the opening of the country’s borders. It will prevent the full recovery of the region,” said Wille Walsh, Director General of IATA in a speech at the Changi Aviation Summit in Singapore in early May. “

He urged the Japanese government to take more bold steps towards reclaiming and opening up the country’s borders. Walsh added, “While Japan is taking steps to allow travel, there is no clear plan for reopening Japan for all visitors or tourists. And eliminating on-arrival airport testing. and daily arrival cap. “

China and Japan are the two markets with the largest impact on Asia-Pacific air passenger traffic falling behind the rest of the world and thus impacting the recovery of the region’s travel and tourism sector.

Singapore, on the other hand, has lifted all bans on vaccinated travelers. However, unvaccinated travelers must apply for entry clearance, take a pre-departure test and serve a seven-day isolation period at the traveler’s place of residence or accommodation.

Singapore Airlines said earlier this month it carried 1.45 million passengers in April, the most since the virus outbreak. The aircraft returned nearly 60 percent of pre-COVID capacity.

As travel restrictions eased, encouraging people to travel again, Singapore’s national carrier continues to roll out services to many destinations and increase frequencies on existing routes.

At the end of March, the carrier’s passenger network covered a total of 93 destinations in 36 countries and territories, up from 85 in December. Prior to COVID, the airline had a network covering 137 destinations in 37 countries and territories.

Based on current published schedules, Singapore Airlines expects passenger capacity to reach 61 per cent of pre-COVID levels by June 2022 and expects passenger capacity to reach 67 per cent per crisis quality level in September. It is estimated that by September, it will serve more than 70 percent of the destinations before COVID.

IATA reported that international passenger demand in the Asia-Pacific region for March reached 17 per cent of pre-COVID levels, which is below the global trend where markets recovered 60 per cent of the level. in pre-pandemic. The global air transport association believes that because of government bans and their quick removal, the region’s travel industry will sooner return to where it was.

Measures proposed by IATA to be taken by governments include the removal of the mask mandate for air travel and the removal of quarantine and COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers where there is a high level of population resistance, which is the case in most parts of Asia.

“Supporting and more importantly speeding up repairs requires an entire industry and government approach. Airplanes are bringing back flights. Airports need to be able to handle demand. And governments need to be able to. able to process security clearances and other documentation for key staff efficiently, ”Walsh said.

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