Asian airlines struggle with near-total grounding of international flying

AAPA says ‘uncoordinated’ response to COVID-19 makes international travel ‘extremely difficult.’

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region are in “a perilous condition,” Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) director general Subjas Menon has warned.

AAPA noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and “widespread travel restrictions” put in place by governments to combat it have “almost completely suppressed international air travel.” Asian airlines carried only 724,000 international passengers for the entire month of June, down 98% year-over-year. The average load factor for the month was 36.3%, AAPA reported.

AAPA added that air cargo demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers, was down 20.3% year-over-year in June “as the demand for exports continued to falter on the back of economic weakness aggravated by disruptions to global supply chains.”

“International flights continue to be grounded by border closures and onerous quarantine requirements, even when domestic lockdowns are being eased,” Menon said. “The prospect of a recovery in travel markets during the second half of the year is increasingly uncertain, as governments grapple with a resurgence of local infections, with the re-imposition of community lockdowns and further tightening of travel restrictions.

"Uncoordinated measures between states, including blanket quarantines by some, are making international air travel extremely difficult even for those wishing to travel. Airlines in the Asia Pacific region are rapidly depleting cash reserves and incurring massive losses.”

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth