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Asia airlines brace for cost hit, slow return of Chinese fliers

CNA – Asia-Pacific airlines face headwinds from rising fuel prices and high inflation, industry executives said yesterday, adding to a downbeat outlook for a segment where travel demand is struggling to recover fully to pre-pandemic levels.

The region’s air travel recovered to just 69 per cent of 2019 levels for the year through September, trailing all other regions, impacted mainly by China’s slow re-opening of borders after COVID-19, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“Industry recovery has been slowed by inflation, the tight job market, supply chain constraints and fuel prices, which are still higher than in 2019,” Subhas Menon, Director General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, told its annual gathering.

“Non-oil costs are also escalating in areas like ground handling and taxation, thus squeezing the profit margins for airlines,” he said, adding supply chain issues continue to impact deliveries of new aircraft and spare parts for maintenance.

Singapore Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Changi Airport in Singapore. PHOTO: CNA