Qatar and the Middle East recovered to approximately 85% of Q2, 2019 seat capacity in the second quarter, a report by Airport Councils International (ACI) Asia-Pacific has shown.
Pent-up demand for air travel particularly for leisure such as visiting friends and relatives and postponed holidays, will continue to buoy the industry's recovery even as the sector faces strong headwinds against inflation and geopolitical risks.
Many airports are already operating at capacity in peak periods, even though the overall footfall is below 2019 levels, ACI that represents airport operators in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East region noted in its ‘Industry Outlook’.
The Q2, 2022 scheduled domestic seat capacity shows recovery of 89% of pre-pandemic levels as compared to the same quarter of 2019. The international seat capacity, however, is still down 59% as travel restrictions, quarantine and testing requirements still continue to impact, particularly in China and partially in Japan.
Total domestic seat capacity is expected to exceed 2019 levels by Q3, 2022, with the overall traffic for the year 2022 likely to be on par with 2019 levels.
Following a turbulent first quarter, marked with rigid travel restrictions, suspension of international air travel in some parts of the region and geopolitical conflict, the recovery in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions are benefiting from a strong pent-up demand.
Despite signs of improvement, the industry still faces strong headwinds, including geopolitical instability in eastern Europe and its subsequent impact on the global macroeconomics, including high inflation, rising energy prices and disruptions in supply chains. All these external factors, to a certain extent, continue to negatively impact the supply and demand for air travel.
ACI Asia-Pacific Director General Stefano Baronci said, “As a result of a successful vaccination campaign that covers an average of 74% of the population across the region, travel restrictions are being gradually phased out across the region, fuelling strong demand for air travel. Though 2022 looks to be a more positive year for the sector, there will be bumps in our road to recovery especially in consideration of the uncertain macroeconomic scenario.
“As part of our efforts to further enhance airports' role of engines of economic and social progress in a safe and sustainable manner, ACI Asia-Pacific, at the recent ICAO 57th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation for Asia and Pacific Regions in Incheon, Republic of Korea, urged the regulators to work closely with the industry to enhance manpower and operations to ensure a smooth traveller experience and harmonise as much as possible health protocols. ACI Asia-Pacific will continue to work with our members to help the industry build back stronger.”