Apac international air connectivity dips 38% since 2019

Apac international air connectivity dips 38% since 2019

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  • September 20, 2023
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New Delhi: Connectivity to international destinations in the Asia-Pacific (Apac) region dipped by nearly 38% in the three years ended December 2022, according to a report by the Airports Council International.

Extended travel restrictions due to covid, limited air traffic rights, slot constraints at airports, high airfares, economic downturns and geopolitical tensions were the primary reasons for this decline, it added.

The study, covering 100 airports in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, said travel costs at these airports rose by as much as 50%. “Sixty-nine of the selected 100 airports witnessed a decrease in airfare affordability, which correlates with airports’ decrease in available flights, routes and seat capacity. As measured by the average airfare in relation to per-capita income, air transport became 34% less affordable across the two regions.”

While direct connectivity to other international destinations from the Asia-Pacific region is still lagging behind, low-cost carriers are driving capacity growth, and preliminary rankings for 2023 suggest positive outlook for the region, the study added.

Overall, Dubai was the top-ranked airport across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East in offering direct connectivity to foreign destinations, followed by the Doha and Incheon airports. In fact, the Middle East registered a 26% growth in total connectivity in 2022 compared to 2019, with direct connectivity to airports in North America, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The report said key aviation markets like China and India, along with fast-growing markets like Vietnam and the Philippines, have much lower flying propensity than Europe and North America. “Favourable factors such as gross domestic product growth, large population, a rising middle class and ramping e-commerce position Asia-Pacific and the Middle East for long-term air connectivity growth from 2030 to 2040. However, there is need for developing infrastructure and the easing of airspace congestion to accommodate the expected growth in traffic.”

For India, total inbound and outbound international traffic for the January-March quarter of 2023 is still more than 7% lower than the 2019 levels, at 15.2 million passengers, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed.

In order to increase the direct connectivity of flights, the airports body has encouraged governments to liberalize air traffic rights and increase airlines’ seat capacity to enhance connectivity and offer passengers affordable airfares. In addition, the slot allocation system needs to be effective and misuse of slots should come with disincentives, Airports Council International said.

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Updated: 20 Sep 2023, 12:20 AM IST

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