Air travel in Asia might take three years to recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19. A report by the International Air Transport Association stated that it will take till 2024 for international air travel across the region to reach pre-virus levels.
“We expect passenger traffic for international Asia-Pacific to restart in early 2022 at the earliest. We don’t think that the variant situation will improve, so governments are unlikely to start lifting controls before vaccination becomes sufficiently widespread to limit community contagion,” said an IATA spokesperson to Bloomberg.
This comes just as cases subsided in India, only to increase in Indonesia. Malaysia, too, has been struggling to contain the outbreak of the Delta variant, while South Korea’s Seoul has imposed its toughest restrictions so far. Moreover, Japan is preparing to host the Olympic Games, albeit without spectators.
The fast-spreading Delta variant, compounded by low rates of vaccinations, and localised lockdowns have slowed down the recovery in the continent.
Meanwhile, North America and Europe continue to see strong demand during the holidays after the European Union relaxed quarantine and lockdown requirements. Mayur Patel, regional sales director for Japan and Asia Pacific at aviation analytics firm OAG said, “Sadly, the same cannot be said for Asia, where the low level of vaccination rates, sudden and sharp lockdowns, and inconsistent regulations frustrate any real attempt at a recovery.”
While Singapore is rethinking its restriction, international travel is likely to take longer. Australia’s plan to launch a quarantine-free travel bubble is also likely to take longer.
Fewer flights have also impacted the demand for jet fuel. Asia’s jet fuel usage accounted for a third of the global consumption in 2019. “We currently expect Asian jet demand will not reach pre-pandemic levels until 2023-2024, although domestic travel will have largely recovered by the end of 2022,” said analyst George Dix to the news site.
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