Over the last year, the civil aviation industry has heavily felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, ICAO’s mid-June projections highlight significant revenue losses and low volumes in international air travel amid virus resurgences and restrictions on global flexibility.
According to ICAO’s latest projections, there will be a loss of between 41 and 49 percent in passenger traffic with airline revenue losses of around USD289 to USD323 billion. The recovery in the Asia/Pacific region matches the world average: for 2021, there is a projected decline of 43 to 46 percent compared to 2019 with airline losses of USD106 to USD113 billion.
The APAC Regional Office and APAC Civil Aviation Authority DGCAs held their first COVID-19 information sharing meeting when travel restrictions began in March 2020. In this meeting, the Regional Office established a task force to assist the DGCAs in coordinating their approach to civil aviation management under the circumstances resulting from the pandemic and as an information-sharing mechanism for all APAC stakeholders.
Following the ICAO Council Aviation Task Force report (CART) release, the ICAO APAC COVID-19 Contingency and Recovery Planning Group (ACCRPG) held their first meeting in June 2020.
ACCRPG’s main objective is to assist APAC States with implementing ICAO CART recommendations and guidance by the Member States. Up to today, the ACCPRG has met 10 times and has benefited from three subgroups looking at aviation safety, public health, aviation security and facilitation measures. One example of the value of this work is the advice on alleviation of targeted exemptions, such as access to flight simulators. The ACCRPG forum has also allowed the APAC States, such as Australia and New Zealand, to share their safe travel zone experience to encourage other States to continue making progress in this area.
As for the ICAO APAC RO, through auspices of the ACCRPG, they promoted valuable engagement with the public health community by hosting a joint webinar with the World Health Organization, the Public Health Experts Roundtable and the regional CAPSCA meeting. The aim was to enhance the collaboration between civil aviation and public health authorities.
With the emergence and spread of COVID-19 variants, the States’ capacity to respond to infection, the varying situation between States regarding the prevalence of infections, the States’ ability to respond to the infections, and the vaccination rate by States would require the ACCRPG to monitor global and regional developments.
In early July 2021, the ACCRPG Co-Chairs, with APAC CAA DGCAS, presented the first ACCRPG Annual Report at the fourth COVID-19 Information Sharing Session. The meeting reflected the ongoing close and practical cooperation to the APAC Region’s pandemic recovery efforts.
Moreover, the DG meeting received updates on CART Phase III, the development of Visible Digital Seals (“VDS-NC”) for Travel Related Public Health Proofs, and the upcoming high-level conference on COVID-19 (HLCC 2021). The APAC DGCAs endorsed the way forward for the ACCRPG in 2021-2022, as presented in their Annual Report, including amendments to the ACCRPG terms of reference.
The ACCRPG Annual Report is available here.