With Covid-19 restrictions and international border closures finally starting to ease around Asia, airlines in the region are prepping for their resurgence, relaunching their flights and promoting with sale fares. Domestic flights have been increasing in Thailand and travel agencies are reporting growing interest now that countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia are allowing domestic flying to resume as well.
In Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health has allowed airlines to operate flights at full capacity again, and in recent weeks Thai Lion and AirAsia have been beefing up their schedules. And on November 1, vaccinated travellers are being welcomed back in from abroad from certain approved countries. Fiji and Singapore are enacting similar plans, and India is lifting its domestic capacity cap.
And while some routes have rocketed up in price due to scarcity, many short-haul trips are offering massive discounts for eligible travellers. AirAsia in Malaysia has launched sale prices as low as 95 baht, while VietJet has been running a special for free domestic one-way flights, paying only taxes and fees.
Still, international flights aren’t expected to fully recover financially until late in 2022. Losses of up to US $11.2 billion are predicted this year, and the improving travel forecast is expected to reduce those losses to $2.4 billion next year.
Along with Thai carriers, VietJet, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Fiji Airlines are increasing their scheduled flights in hopes of recovery sooner rather than later. As nearly all the countries in the Asia-Pacific region are beginning to move from strategies of eliminating all Covid-19 to learning to live with the long-term virus, and as vaccination rates are slowly climbing around the region, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for the kneecapped airline industry.
Industry-standard association IATA has estimated a global loss in the aviation industry of around US $200 billion from 2020 to 2022 due to Covid-19, with close to $50 billion losses in 2020. And this August compared to 2019, international flights were only operating at about 4% of what it once was before Covid-19. (Thailand has revised its 2021 predictions to 100,000 foreign arrivals, down from 40 million in 2019.)
Still, airlines are banking on travel withdrawal from globetrotters blocked from their usual wanderlust finally being able to hop on a plane again. Fiji Airways reported thousands of bookings since Sunday when they announced their border reopening. AirAsia reports a 140% spike in mobile app traffic since domestic travel rules were relaxed recently.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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