Industry Expects Recalibration Of Routes As China Reopens 


Panelists from left to right: Paul Burton, Aviation Week Network; Subhas Menon, AAPA; Tao Ma, ICAO; Stefano Baronci, ACI Asia-Pacific; and Mayur Patel, PATA.

Credit: Ocean Driven Media

CHIANG MAI, Thailand—There will be rebalancing of networks within Asia-Pacific following the reopening of China in early January, according to panelists speaking at Routes Asia 2023 on Feb. 14.

However, there were also calls for the removal of potential "man-made stumbling blocks" that could hinder the growth moving forward. 

Mayur Patel, executive board director of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said the fragmented nature of the region meant that different markets have opened up at different speeds, and with the dismantling of China’s border restrictions, there will be recalibration of routes to an important source market.

Network planners are also expected to re-forecast the demand coming from China, he said. For example, the Singapore-Bangkok route was sixth in the top 10 international routes but has slipped to 10th in recent months. 

He added that network planning will become "tricky" once the pent-up demand loses steam, coupled with a "fragile" macroeconomics situation.

Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) director general Subhas Menon warned of potential "man-made stumbling blocks," for example the reinstatement of testing of passengers coming from China, which he said is not science-based. Other hurdles include a lack of human resources as well as geo-political ones, such as Russia-Ukraine war which effectively blocked the usage of Russian air space. 

“As aviation powerhouse in principle we should generate a lot of energy but also a lot of inefficiencies,” said Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia Pacific. 

He said that processes introduced during the pandemic were insufficient for the next black-swan event and called for greater collaboration to develop preventive and preparedness solutions and harmonization of processes. 

To also drive recovery and efficiency, ICAO Regional Director Ma Tao said Asia covers 50% of the world’s flight information region and, as a regulatory agency, ICAO hopes to drive cooperation and information sharing between air navigation service providers to optimize routes and improve air traffic managements across the continents. 

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.