- Asia-Pacific region expected to open borders for travel before Europe
- Increased consolidation of airlines expected to weather crisis
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) yesterday expressed optimism over the Asia-Pacific leading the way in navigating through the turbulent times and said the region would show governments across the world the recovery path to follow. While Europe was earlier expected to bounce back from the crisis stemming from the global pandemic and promote travel, IATA Regional Vice President Asia Pacific Conrad Clifford said the Asia-Pacific region appears to be stepping up efforts to open up for travel before Europe.
“We had originally thought that Europe can lead the way in reopening borders. However, I believe the Asia-Pacific has the opportunity to lead the way with a couple of governments getting together and showing other governments how it can be done,” Clifford told a virtual press briefing yesterday.
He added that the IATA is also hopeful about the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, although it has been delayed by a couple of weeks.
According to industry experts, the shelving of the world’s first air travel bubble that allows travel between two destinations, without the need for quarantine, shows the challenges faced in reopening borders, even in places where the COVID-19 virus is largely contained.
Further, with regard to the consolidation of airlines that may take place, due to the financial strains faced in the travel industry, Clifford said, once again, it would be the Asia-Pacific that would set an example to other regions.
“There will be consolidation of airlines and the Asia Pacific, ASEAN and Korea are a good example. They are very different markets and are ensuring their survival and continuation of jobs, employment for their staff. That is a good thing,” he said.
Clifford added that if the governments across the world are unable to open borders effectively through testing and if there is a need to wait for a vaccine, then more consolidations would be witnessed in the region.