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Asia Minute: Asia Pacific region is lagging the rest of the world in air travel

Yuichi Kosio / Flickr
Yuichi Kosio / Flickr

Air travel is picking up in most of the world — with the notable exception of the Asia Pacific.

That’s the word from the International Air Transport Association.

Last week, the director general of that group told an aviation summit in Singapore that “Asia Pacific is playing catch-up on restarting travel after COVID-19.”

The organization’s research shows overall international travel is at 42% of the level it was in 2019, but air travel in Asia is only at about 13% of pre-pandemic figures.

China remains virtually closed to visitors, and Chinese citizens are not on the road in Asia in their usual numbers.

Japan has been cautious, allowing some inbound travel, but it’s not yet broadly open for tourism.

Hong Kong has changed from its usual role as a major regional air hub to continuing quarantines and shifting restrictions.

Despite the challenges, the Air Transport Association projects international air travel will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023. That’s a year earlier than its previous prediction.

The group says that overall travel figures so far this year have increased faster than expected and are on a trajectory for continued growth.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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