ACI: APAC LIKELY TO LOSE ITS POSITION AS TOP CIVIL AVIATION MARKET DUE TO RESTRICTIONS
September 19, 2022
China's tougher border measures and Japan's cautious approach toward the relaxation of inbound travel restrictions could displace Asia-Pacific as the world's largest air passenger market for the year 2022, according to a recent report by the Airports Council International (ACI).
It noted that — Asia-Pacific which has dominated the civil aviation market for several years prior to the pandemic — is estimated to finish second, behind Europe in terms of passenger share, and at a comparable level with North America.
"The latest ACI Asia-Pacific forecast indicates that by the end of 2022, passenger traffic will only recover by about 55% as compared to pre-pandemic levels," ACI said, adding that this is in "stark contrast" to other regions where recovery is substantially higher, and indeed estimated to be approximately between 70% and 80%, respectively.
The report noted that in 2019, 3.38 billion passengers travelled by air in Asia-Pacific, representing 37% of the global volume of 9.16 billion.
Following phenomenal growth, 2020 was a watershed year for aviation as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the industry.
In 2020, meanwhile, the region witnessed only 1.57 billion passengers, an unprecedented 53% crash in traffic owing to pandemic-induced restrictions across the globe.
However, Asia-Pacific dominated the traffic share by contributing 1.57 billion pax or 44% to the global traffic of 3.6 billion.
Home to several large domestic markets, the region demonstrated sensible resilience in air traffic, ACI said.
APAC to drop behind Europe in aviation market share
"In 2021, 1.50 billion people travelled by air in Asia-Pacific, experiencing a slight decline by -4% versus 2020, but was still the leading region accounting for 33% of 4.6 billion global passengers."
Although the latest ACI forecast predicts 22% growth for the year 2022 over 2021, the share of passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific is likely to drop to second globally, according to the ACI report, with estimated traffic of 1.84 billion passengers — a decline of -45% compared to 2019.
"The traffic in the region will not be able to fully recover to 2019 levels unless all countries keep their borders open to facilitate freedom of movement. China and Japan — one of the largest contributors to the region's overall traffic — have been slow in lifting travel and COVID restrictions," said Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific.
"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. Accelerating the recovery will need a whole of industry and government support, especially in view of an increasingly challenging macroeconomic scenario," Baronci added.
ACI Asia-Pacific noted that it has written a letter, co-signed by ACI World and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), urging the Prime Minister of Japan to remove all restrictions and restore travel privileges to enable smooth recovery of the industry in the region.
The organisations urged Japan to take necessary actions to bolster the recovery of the industry, including the resumption of visa exemptions to countries that had such an agreement with Japan.
"This reform is considered particularly urgent in view of economies still battling strong headwinds, including geopolitical instability in eastern Europe and its subsequent impact on global macroeconomics, including high inflation and rising energy prices. All these external factors too are causing disruptions in supply chains, negatively hampering the recovery of the industry," the report said.