Selangor Journal

AAPA expects Asia-Pacific air travel to fully recover by first quarter of 2024

CHIANG MAI, Feb 14 — The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) expects air travel in the Asia-Pacific region to see full recovery by the first quarter of 2024, returning to 2019 pre-pandemic level amidst the global headwinds.

Its director-general Subhas Menon said the Asia-Pacific region would continue to recover very strongly with the reopening of the economy and travel in China, which contributes to 40 per cent of travel for the region.

“At the end of 2022, Asia Pacific has recovered to 47.5 per cent of the 2019 level and one of the main reasons for that was that the (important) Chinese market has yet to open,” he told the Malaysian media after the Powerhouse Panel: State of the Aviation Industry forum at Routes Asia CNX 2023 here today.

Nevertheless, Subhas said the aviation industry needs to work on tackling the lingering headwinds, particularly the high jet fuel prices that increase the cost of airline operations as well as the limits in putting on more flights to meet the pent-up demand.

“The jet fuel prices have been stubbornly high. Normally the difference between Brent crude oil prices and jet fuel prices is between 15 and 30 per cent, but now it is more than 80 per cent higher,” he said.

The inflationary trend, with the strong US dollar, has affected many currencies in the Asia-Pacific region which is weaker at the moment.

“People’s capacity to spend will also be affected but we are cautiously optimistic that the aviation industry and most importantly the travel industry will continue to grow and strengthen in the coming years,” Subhas said.

There is also a need for coordination between the governments of the Asia-Pacific region to collaborate and speak with one voice to further boost the industry back to the pre-pandemic levels.

“We only see that the governments have introduced laws and regulations for their respective citizens and not all have been useful for international travel.

“Asean already has good frameworks but we need to expand it further,” he said, adding that Malaysia’s aviation industry has been doing a good job to date with new frameworks and refurbishments.

Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organisation regional director of Asia Pacific Tao Ma said cooperation between all stakeholders in the region as a team needs to be strengthened to prepare for any possible hiatus in the future.

“We need to also work closely with organisations such as AAPA, the Airports Council International Asia-Pacific (ACI) and the International Air Transport Association to work on the recovery of the aviation industry in the region,” he said.

ACI director-general Stefano Baronci said the bilateral and multilateral agreements need to be further strengthened to ease the process of travelling in terms of digitalisation.

“We hope most of the airports will be back into profit next year after being in the red in 2022 due to the pandemic,” he added.

Routes Asia — the brainchild of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and organiser The Routes — provides a platform for the region’s airlines, airports, tourism authorities and aviation stakeholders to meet, share best practices and develop network strategies as well as ensure future air service development across the Asia-Pacific region.

Originally known as New Route Asia, it was first held in 2003 in Kuala Lumpur and for three consecutive years. A decade later, MAHB co-hosted Routes Asia 2014 with Sarawak Tourism Board in Kuching.

— Bernama

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