New Delhi: The Asia-Pacific could lose the world’s largest air passenger market tag for 2022 as China continues to follow strict border rules and Japan remains cautious towards relaxation of inbound travel curbs, according to the Airports Council International (ACI) forecast estimates released on Monday.
“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 aviation industry body said.
The latest ACI Asia-Pacific forecast indicates that by the end of 2022 passenger traffic will only recover by about 55 per cent as compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is in stark contrast to other regions where recovery is substantially higher, and indeed estimated to be approximately between 70-80 per cent respectively.
As per ACI, as many as 3.38 billion passengers travelled by air in Asia-Pacific in 2019, representing 37 per cent of the global volume of 9.16 billion. Following a phenomenal growth, 2020 was a watershed year for aviation as the Covid-19 pandemic crippled the industry.
“In 2020, the region witnessed only 1.57 billion passengers, an unprecedented 53 per cent 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 per cent to the global traffic of 3.6 billion. Home to several large domestic markets, the region demonstrated sensible resilience in air traffic,” the industry body said.
In 2021, 1.50 billion people travelled by air in Asia-Pacific, experiencing a slight decline by 4 per cent versus 2020, but was still the leading region accounting for 33 per cent of 4.6 billion global passengers, it further said.
“Although the latest ACI forecast predicts 22 per cent growth for the year 2022 over 2021, the share of passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific is likely to drop to second globally, with an estimated traffic of 1.84 billion passengers — a decline of -45 per cent compared to 2019,” the ACI media release said.