The world’s second-largest economy is seeking to completely stamp out the coronavirus through rapid lockdown and mass testing, and the measures have hurt air travel, both domestic and international.
The recovery of the aviation sector in Asia was already relatively slow, and Willie Walsh, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), warned that Beijing’s outlook had worsened the picture.
“It was a brutal two years for the airline. But we are now seeing signs of recovery,” he told an aviation conference in Singapore.
“Unfortunately, (a) the Asia-Pacific region will lag behind in this recovery because China continues to follow the zero-covid.”
In Asia in 2021, international travel was only seven percent of what it was in 2019, compared to 25 percent worldwide, he said.
Although the film improved earlier this year, there is still a “long way to go”, he added.
China’s decision to stick to zero-covid has put it in conflict with many Asian governments, which have begun reopening borders in recent months and eliminating the need for quarantine and testing.
“Science supports these initiatives,” Walsh said at the Changi Aviation Summit, which was attended by top officials from the industry.
IATA “confirms that this science supports testing and quarantine removal for immunized travelers from areas with high population immunity, including many parts of the region,” he said.
China, the last major economy still facing a mounting call to omit the world-closed, zero-covid policy that has been locked in Shanghai for weeks.
Last week, the World Health Organization said the procedure was not sustainable.