Passenger air traffic in the Asia-Pacific region is on the mend, with most countries easing travel restrictions in the era of the pandemic, but prolonged Chinese border closures are slowing the recovery, the Association said. international air transport (IATA).
IATA regional vice president Philip Goh said on Tuesday that air passenger traffic in the region is expected to rebound to around 73% of 2019 levels by the end of the year as travel restrictions ease. will relax.
The latest figures also take into account the impending reopening of its borders by China, although it is not known when this will happen.
“There’s no doubt that I think the momentum is very strong, especially with all major Asia-Pacific markets now open, with the exception of China,” Goh told reporters.
IATA estimates that international passenger traffic in the region will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, as August traffic was only 38% of 2019 levels.
Asia’s aviation recovery has lagged behind other regions, largely due to China’s border closures, which have kept its international passenger numbers at an average of 2-3% of levels. before the pandemic, according to IATA.
China has maintained its “zero COVID-19” strategy of mass lockdowns and strict border controls to try to contain the spread of the virus.
Reopening of borders
North Asian airlines have seen a drop in consumer numbers, but the outlook is expected to improve as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea ease quarantine and testing requirements.
Japan lifted its ban on visa-free travel and started accepting individual travelers again. South Korea has removed the requirement for a pre-travel COVID-19 test, and Hong Kong no longer requires travelers to quarantine in hotels.
Taiwan reopened its borders on Thursday, allowing international visitors to enter without having to undergo quarantine for the first time in more than two and a half years, Taiwan News reported.
Taiwan’s China Airlines and Korean Air have remained profitable through much of the pandemic thanks to increased freight rates. The freight market is starting to weaken, but an increase in passenger traffic will help offset the loss of revenue.
Japan Airlines Co.Ltd. and ANA Holdings Inc. will benefit this week from Japan’s opening up to visa-free tourist travel, as the weak yen makes it an attractive destination for overseas visitors.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. of Hong Kong, which has parked much of its fleet in the desert during the pandemic due to a lack of demand, is struggling to hire enough staff and bring planes back quickly as rules ease .
Reuters contributed to this report.