AviationIATA senior VP says the time has come to return to normal in the skies.

Is Asia lagging behind in supporting the recovery?

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IATA is calling for more digitisation of processes to handle the increase in traffic.
IATA is calling for more digitisation of processes to handle the increase in traffic. Photo Credit: Adobe/heychli

Asian Pacific governments have been told to get on with the job of driving the recovery of the region’s airlines and supporting the industry’s sustainable growth.

“Asia has been a laggard. The rest of the world started lifting restrictions and reopening borders last year,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s senior vice president and deputy director general.

Clifford was speaking at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents in Bangkok.

“The last three years have been extremely challenging for the airline industry,” Clifford said. “Asian airlines, in particular, were hit hard, accounting for about a third of the industry’s losses between 2020 and this year.”

But the time has come, Clifford said, with the region finally emerging from Covid-19, for governments to play a key role in “accelerating the recovery and supporting the industry’s sustainable growth”.

“It was only around April this year that positive momentum was seen in Asia. That is why international passenger demand in September was only at 41.5% of 2019 levels, the lowest among regions.”

IATA figures show North American carriers led the way at 89% of 2019 levels, while the other regions were in the 73%-83% range.

Clifford said there is no reason “why we cannot travel as we did before the pandemic”.

“Now is the time to get the capacity in place, both in terms of infrastructure and the manpower.”

Clifford recognised the region’s recovery will be held back while China remains closed to international travel.

“We must learn to live, travel and work with Covid-19. We hope the Chinese government will have the confidence to re-open its borders soon and connect with the world,” he said.

IATA is also calling for more digitisation of processes to handle the increase in traffic.

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