IATA: APAC passenger traffic on road to recovery

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Beijing Daxing International Airport

https://www.interairport-southeastasia.com/en-gb/lp/exprom-2.htmlPassenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to recover to about 73 percent of 2019 levels by the end of 2022 travel restrictions continued to be eased by regional governments. That compares to a 53 percent improvement in August, the Asia-Pacific head of airline industry group IATA said on Tuesday (11 October).

“There is no mistaking I think the momentum is very strong especially with all major markets in the Asia-Pacific now open except for China,” IATA Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, Philip Goh told reporters on a webinar.

Asia’s aviation recovery has lagged other parts of the world in large part because of China’s ongoing border closures that have kept its international passenger numbers averaging only 2 percent to 3 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to IATA data.

The year-end traffic estimate is based on China opening its borders soon, though the actual date remains unclear, Goh said.

Japan resumed visa-free travel for tourists on Tuesday, Taiwan will end quarantine for arrivals on Thursday and Hong Kong stopped quarantine last month.

International passenger traffic in the region was at 38 percent of 2019 levels in August, according to IATA, which estimates it will take until 2025 to reach pre-pandemic levels.

Another association official, Dr. Xie Xingquan, IATA’s regional vice president for for North Asia, said in a recent blog post that the region’s recovery is lagging because China remains constrained due to its COVID policies. “Much of the world has reopened borders and aviation demand is strong as a result. But Asia — and North Asia in particular — is lagging. China is, of course, the dominant player and only recently has it begun to ease border measures,” Xie said.

He added there have been some positive developments:

  • Recently, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) relaxed the circuit breaker policy for international flights.
  • The State Council executive meeting stated that it will increase domestic and international passenger flights in an orderly manner and formulate measures to facilitate the exchange of personnel from foreign companies
  • The latest version of the “Prevention and Control Plan” has been implemented
  • The time for personnel isolation and control has been greatly reduced to 7 days in a facility and three days at home

“Nevertheless, after two and a half years of border restrictions, China needs to remove quarantine for arrivals and quickly adopt a full reopening to allow international travel to flourish,” Xie said in the post. “This will support the recovery of the Chinese airline industry, and the broader economy as a whole. Remember, in the early days of the pandemic, China was one of the first to bounce back and we saw a surge in traffic as a result. It is not just the domestic market at stake here. China is a huge generator of international traffic and tourists for other countries. It is vital that the country resumes this role.


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