Dr. Xie Xingquan, IATA’s RVP for North Asia, says the region’s recovery cannot ignore safety and future financial resilience.
Much of the world has reopened borders and aviation demand is strong as a result. But Asia—and North Asia in particular—is lagging. China is, of course, the dominant player and only recently has it begun to ease border measures.
There have been some positive developments:
- recently, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) relaxed the circuit breaker policy for international flights.
- the State Council executive meeting stated that it will increase domestic and international passenger flights in an orderly manner and formulate measures to facilitate the exchange of personnel from foreign companies
- the latest version of the “Prevention and Control Plan” has been implemented
- the time for personnel isolation and control has been greatly reduced to 7 days in a facility and three days at home
Nevertheless, after two and a half years of border restrictions, China needs to remove quarantine for arrivals and quickly adopt a full reopening to allow international travel to flourish. This will support the recovery of the Chinese airline industry, and the broader economy as a whole. Remember, in the early days of the pandemic, China was one of the first to bounce back and we saw a surge in traffic as a result. It is not just the domestic market at stake here. China is a huge generator of international traffic and tourists for other countries. It is vital that the country resumes this role.
IATA stands ready to help Chinese civil aviation maximize the safe and orderly flow of passengers by sharing the best practices of other markets' recoveries, so that unhindered international travel can return as soon as possible.
Two standout areas will ensure a positive recovery. The first is financial resilience for all North Asian airlines. We know how devastating the continued travel restrictions have been on airlines in our region. To allow them to get up to speed, IATA will continue to innovate its services to deliver value and better serve their needs.
For example, our standards, services, and products improve operational and financial efficiency and reduce cost. The IATA settlement systems, such as our Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP), can help airlines to improve their cashflow and reduce costs. The Chinese airlines, in particular, would derive huge benefits from the economies of scale deriving from their participation in a single global program. It would translate into lower transactional and back-office costs. And the continued modernization of these systems means the advantages willonly increase.
The second area—and something we must never neglect, especially as the industry ramps up—is safety. The benefits of collaboration in this area are proven and the links in the safety chain in North Asia must be strengthened. IATA encourages the regulators and airlines in the region, in particular China, to share their safety and operational data so that such benchmarking services as IATA’s Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) platform can enhance everybody’s safety performance. Sharing safety and operational data is key to improve global aviation safety and would benefit airlines in the North Asia region enormously.
Not so long ago, North Asian airlines were the envy of the world with the biggest and fastest growing markets on their doorsteps. That scenario has been completely turned upside down. But with the right government policies and the best industry support, there is no reason why these airlines and markets cannot regain their former strength.