Flight recovery in the Asia-Pacific has been slowed by a resurgence of Covid-19 cases, and by measures to curb the virus’ further spread in the region.
Airlines’ plans to resume international flights had lent some support to Asia-Pacific jet fuel markets, keeping Asian jet fuel refining margins against Dubai crude values positive since the start of June and rising to about a three-month high of $3.50/bl on 22 June, but margins fell back to $1.82/bl yesterday. Countries and airlines are imposing restrictions on flights in order to manage the virus’ spread. Margins also remain far from the $12.12/bl average in January, just before the pandemic took hold.
Air New Zealand announced today it has placed a temporary hold on new inbound international flight bookings for the next three weeks following a request from the New Zealand government, to help ensure the country can provide quarantine accommodation for inbound passengers for the required 14-day period. The airline is also looking at aligning daily arrivals with the available capacity at managed isolation facilities, meaning some passengers may need to be moved to other flights.
Australia is shutting the border between its two largest states of New South Wales and Victoria tonight, following a surge of Covid-19 cases in Victoria’s capital city Melbourne, and will likely cause further flight reductions. It is unclear how long the border will be shut for.
China’s civil aviation administration (CAAC), in line with previously-issued guidelines, has temporarily halted operations by US-Bangla Airlines’ flight BS325 from Dhaka to Guangzhou for a week starting on 6 July, after five passengers on that flight tested positive for the coronavirus on 28 June. CAAC had previously temporarily halted operations on two other flights.
India has also banned international travel until 31 July in its latest lockdown phase. Airlines in the region such as Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines are still cutting more than 90pc of international passenger flights in July.
International Air Transport Association economist Andrew Matters also said at the end of June that air traffic and jet demand recovery is “patchy and uneven” worldwide, and that international air traffic is unlikely to return to pre-crisis levels before 2023-2024 though global domestic passenger air traffic may recover next year.