Air travel recovery in India; Border restrictions and measures hinder the recovery of the tourism industry in Asia and the Pacific

In terms of reopening skies for travel, India is ahead of the Asia-Pacific nations. The difference is stark compared to China and Japan, which are two large Asian domestic markets

Representative image. Reuters

Singapore: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) believes that ongoing travel restrictions and border measures are hampering the recovery of the travel and tourism industry in Asia Pacific.

It also said demand for international passengers in the Asia-Pacific region for March was 17 percent of pre-COVID levels, after hovering at less than 10 percent for most of the past two years.

Based on IATA data, India’s domestic passenger load factor in March 2022 was 82.3 percent higher than in other markets. The corresponding figures for March for the US domestic passenger load factor were 87.2 per cent and the average for the rest of the global domestic markets measured by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) was 79.2 per cent.

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

India expects to reach and then exceed domestic passenger traffic before COVID in the coming months.

“I am very confident in the coming days, in the coming months, over the next year, we will surpass the pre-Covid level of 415,000 passengers per day,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said at an airshow in Hyderabad in March. .

In fact, in terms of reopening skies for travel, India is far ahead of its peers in Asia Pacific. The difference is especially stark when compared to China and Japan, which are two large Asian domestic markets.

Speaking at the Changi Aviation Summit in Singapore earlier in May, Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said:

He urged the Japanese government to take bolder steps towards restoring and opening the country’s borders. Walsh added, “While Japan has taken steps to allow travel, there is no clear plan to reopen Japan to all visitors or incoming tourists. More efforts are needed to ease travel restrictions, starting with lifting quarantine for all vaccinated travelers, and removing both airport testing On arrival and daily access cap.

China and Japan are the two markets that have the greatest impact on air passenger traffic in the Asia Pacific region, lagging behind the rest of the world and thus affecting the recovery of the travel and tourism sector in the region.

Singapore, on the other hand, has removed all restrictions on vaccinated travelers. However, unvaccinated travelers are required to apply for permission to enter, take a pre-departure test and spend a seven-day isolation period at the traveler’s place of residence or residence.

Singapore Airlines said earlier this month that it carried 1.45 million passengers in April, the most since the virus outbreak. The airline has regained about 60 percent of its pre-COVID capacity.

With the easing of travel restrictions, encouraging people to travel again, Singapore’s national carrier has gradually restored services to many destinations and increased frequencies on existing routes.

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

Based on currently published schedules, Singapore Airlines expects passenger capacity to reach 61 percent of pre-Covid levels by June 2022 and expects passenger capacity to reach around 67 percent of health crisis levels by September. It is expected that by September, it will serve more than 70 percent of its pre-COVID destinations.

The International Air Transport Association reported that international passenger demand in the Asia-Pacific region for the month of March was 17 percent of pre-COVID levels, well below the global trend as markets recovered to 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The IATA believes this is due to government restrictions, and the sooner they are lifted, the sooner the regional travel industry can get back to where it was.

Steps the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested governments should take include lifting the mask mandate for air travel and removing quarantine and COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers where there are high levels of population immunity, which is happening in much of Asia.

“More importantly supporting and accelerating the recovery process will need a full approach from industry and government. Airlines are working to bring back flights. Airports need to be able to handle demand. Governments need to be able to process security clearances and other key documents,” Walsh said.

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