Asia-Pacific airline traffic recovery to accelerate as rules ease -IATA

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Passenger airline traffic in the Asia-Pacific region should recover to around 73% of 2019 levels by year-end as travel restrictions relax, up from 53% in August, the Asia-Pacific head of airline industry group IATA said on Tuesday.

“There is no mistaking I think the momentum is very strong especially with all major markets in the Asia-Pacific now open except for China,” IATA Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, Philip Goh told reporters on a webinar.

Asia’s aviation recovery has lagged other parts of the world in large part because of China’s ongoing border closures that have kept its international passenger numbers averaging only 2% to 3% of pre-pandemic levels, according to IATA data.

The year-end traffic estimate is based on China opening its borders soon, though the actual date remains unclear, Goh said.

In positive news for airlines, Japan resumed visa-free travel for tourists on Tuesday, Taiwan will end quarantine for arrivals on Thursday and Hong Kong stopped quarantine last month.

International passenger traffic in the region was at 38% of 2019 levels in August, according to IATA, which estimates it will take until 2025 to reach pre-pandemic levels.

(This story has been corrected to fix international traffic levels to 38% from 35% in paragraph 6)

(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Tom Hogue, Kirsten Donovan)