Dhaka: The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has called on governments in the region to relax slot constraints, curfews on operating hours, and expedite approvals exempting crew from quarantine requirements.
Worldwide demand for air travel has collapsed following COVID19-related border closures, shutdowns, lockdowns and other travel restrictions. The number of flights operated by Asia Pacific airlines in the first week of April declined by 93 per cent compared to normal levels of traffic established at the beginning of the year.
Several Asia Pacific carriers have been mounting flights on an ad-hoc basis, to meet the demand for repatriation flights for stranded passengers to return to their home countries. Such flights often involve working with governments and national regulatory authorities to obtain the necessary clearances given the many restrictions currently imposed on international travel.
Worldwide demand for air cargo declined by 19 per cent in March 2020 compared to the same month last year but is holding up relatively well despite economic disruption in many economies. Goods being shipped by air cargo include significant volumes of pharmaceuticals, medical protective equipment, and food supplies.
Airlines have increased the number of services operated by dedicated freighter aircraft to partially compensate for the loss of bellyhold capacity resulting from the drastic cutbacks in passenger services. A number of Asian airlines have also been operating additional air cargo services using passenger aircraft adapted to carry cargo both in the bellyhold as well as in the cabin in the absence of passengers.
"The current crisis is taking an enormous toll on Asian economies and people's livelihoods across the region. Some 50 million people work in travel and tourism alone within the Asia Pacific region. We recognise and applaud the efforts being made by many governments to offer financial assistance and support to the aviation industry as well as the wider travel and tourism sector," said Subhas Menon, Director General, AAPA.
"The Asia Pacific aviation community is strongly committed to continuing to work closely with governments, public health authorities, and other international bodies to both respond to current challenges, and at the same time begin to make plans for recovery. Aviation has always been a key driver of economic and social development, nowhere more so than in the Asia Pacific region, and will play an important role in the overall recovery effort."