The uneven flight path to recovery, complexity and confusion continue to reign

It’s an uneven flight path to recovery, with Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean only expected to return to 2019 levels by 2025, according to IATA forecasts.

Speaking at the “Asia Arising” event, organized by WiT and Travel Weekly Asia, Vinoop Goel, Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Airports and External Relations for IATA, shared this slide which shows South America North and Central America lead the recovery by 2023, followed by Europe and South America in 2024.

• And if you’re wondering what the impact has been on flights and cargo from 2019 to this year, here’s an interesting chart.

Goel said complexity and confusion continue to threaten recovery, saying: “Passengers and airlines must navigate at least 10 ways to define the pre-travel testing window, six definitions for when a vaccine becomes effective, 24 versions of country risk assessments and only half of the economies that allow exceptions for vaccinated travelers recognize the WHO list of vaccines for use in emergencies.

That said, he said the RPK recovery had restarted after a pause in January and air cargo remained robust, up 12% from 2019.

• International travel is also gradually returning, with Asia-Pacific lagging behind.

• Ticket sales show resilient international air travel, but domestic traffic deteriorates due to China and Russia

Air passenger numbers are expected to recover in 2024, he said, with the caveat – “does not take into account the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict”.

He called for a simpler and more predictable approach to risk and urged:

  • Accelerating the easing of travel restrictions
  • Remove travel bans
  • Allow vaccinated passengers to travel without additional measures
  • Use pre-departure antigen testing for unvaccinated passengers
  • Avoid testing on arrival
  • Regularly review measures and apply sunset clauses (including for tests and masks)
  • Improve preparedness for future health events

Watch Vinoop Goel’s presentation here.

Sharon D. Cole