Asia-Pacific airlines on track for recovery through July

Signs of aviation recovery are emerging especially in Mainland China and the Asia-Pacific Region following the deepest drop seen in global air traffic since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in April, according to global travel analytics firm Cirium.

“The global market reached rock bottom in April 2020, and the only way now is up,” said Ascend by Cirium’s head of consultancy for Asia, Joanna Lu.

“The air travel market in Mainland China is estimated to be down by 58 per cent compared to the first four months of last year. However, while the international market has been hit hard since February, there are signs of recovery in the domestic market.”

The Asia-Pacific markets that are most reliant upon on international traffic and inbound tourism suffered the most. Hong Kong was the hardest hit, with April traffic down by over 73 per cent compared with the same period in 2019. Taiwan (down 58 per cent) follows Hong Kong and Singapore (down 48 per cent) and Thailand (down 46 per cent) at third and fourth.

Ascend by Cirium’s global schedule data indicates a potential recovery across most Asia-Pacific markets through July.

“Mainland China’s domestic schedule suggests a recovery to marginally positive year-on-year growth by end July, all and other regions are showing recovery as travel restrictions begin to ease,” said Lu.

“Those with large domestic markets are expected to see capacity back to pre COVID-19 levels or even growth by July.”

Unlike previous economically-driven downturns, post-Covid-19 intra-region recovery will likely be driven by bilateral agreements. For example, Mainland China is planning to establish “travel bubbles” with South Korea and Singapore for essential business travel. Other Asian Covid-19 bubbles now under discussion include Australia and New Zealand, Japan and Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.