AviationGlobal airport and tourism bodies urge Japan to lift visa restrictions.

Japan, China put the brakes Asia Pacific air recovery

Asia Pacific will soon lose its crown as the world’s largest air passenger market.
Asia Pacific will soon lose its crown as the world’s largest air passenger market. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Raicho

Airports Council International Asia-Pacific has written a letter, co-signed by ACI World and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), to the Prime Minister of Japan, urging the government in Tokyo to remove all restrictions and restore travel privileges to enable smooth recovery of the industry in the region.

The letter follows the release of ACI figures which show Asia Pacific is unlikely to remain the world’s largest air passenger market in 2022 as the impact of China’s tough border measures and Japan’s cautious approach to relaxation of inbound travel restrictions begin to have an impact in the skies.

The latest ACI Asia-Pacific forecast suggests Asia-Pacific’s recent domination of the civil aviation market will be challenged by Europe, which will take the biggest share of passenger traffic. Asia Pacific is estimated to finish second at a comparable level with North America.

ACI figures indicate that by the end of 2022, passenger traffic in Asia Pacific will only recover by about 55% as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Japan, China put the brakes Asia Pacific air recovery

This contrasts sharply with other regions where recovery is substantially higher, and estimated to be approximately between 70% and 80%, respectively.

Although the latest ACI forecast predicts 22% Asia Pacific growth for the year 2022 over 2021, the share of passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific is likely to drop to second globally, with an estimated traffic of 1.84 billion passengers — a decline of 45% compared to 2019.

Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific said, “China and Japan — one of the largest contributors to the regions overall traffic — have been slow in lifting travel and Covid restrictions. We are urging states to take a measured approach to facilitate the recovery in a more sustainable manner and without causing significant impact on their healthcare system.”

In the letter to the Prime Minister of Japan, ACI and WTTC urged the Japanese government to take necessary actions to bolster the recovery of the industry, including resumption of visa exemptions to countries that had such an agreement with Japan.

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