SINGAPORE: Air travel is expected to pick up in Asia as more virus-hit countries lift border curbs and the region will account for a bulk of aircraft demand in the next 20 years, Airbus said Friday.
While the United States and Europe have eased restrictions and demand has rebounded, Asia has lagged behind, with foreign tourists barred and mandatory quarantines still in place in many nations.
Recently, however, some Asian countries have announced they were again accepting vaccinated international passengers, giving a much-needed boost to the industry hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The market has been difficult in the past few years but it is clearly recovering,” said Alexis Vidal, vice president for marketing at Airbus.
“So this is again… a very exciting period of aviation to be into,” he said at the Singapore Airshow, Asia’s biggest aerospace event.
The Philippines reopened its borders to vaccinated foreign visitors last week and Australia has announced it will do the same next week, while Singapore added more countries to its quarantine-free travel arrangement.
“There’s a very short term and there is a long term. I guess the good news… is about borders progressively reopening,” Vidal added.
“I think we would all agree there is a pent up demand and people are eager to travel.”
Industry executives attending the airshow have urged Asian governments to ditch tough coronavirus travel restrictions to help beleaguered airlines recover.
While overall numbers were down, hundreds of aviation representatives have descended on the city-state for the four-day industry event.
Top of the agenda was how to spur a recovery in a region where international travelers still face a gauntlet of tests and lengthy quarantines, and foreign tourists remain barred from many countries.
Airbus, citing industry estimates, said that global air traffic is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels between the fourth quarter of 2022 and the third quarter of 2024.
For the Asia Pacific region, it is forecast to reach 2019 levels at a later date starting in the first quarter of 2023, the European plane-maker said.
Airbus remains confident about the region, Vidal said, adding Asia Pacific will account for 42 percent of the more than 9,400 large and medium aircraft needed worldwide over the next 20 years.
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