Domestic market recovery in Asia could spell return of domestic meetings

Research by Cirium shows Asia-Pacific countries account for over half of world’s total domestic flights scheduled in July 2020

The resumption of domestic flights is one of the pre-requisites for domestic meetings to restart. (Credit: Getty Images)
The resumption of domestic flights is one of the pre-requisites for domestic meetings to restart. (Credit: Getty Images)

Domestic market recovery is leading the aviation sector’s global return, and this could spell the resumption of domestic meetings and events.

According to a new analysis from research firm Cirium, Asia-Pacific countries account for 54% of the top 20 global domestic aviation markets per flight schedules for July 2020.

While United States still tops the chart with 31.3%, or 413, 538 domestic flights, scheduled this month, China follows closely with 378,434 flights, which make up 28.7%. In addition, the Chinese market shows almost 65 million seats scheduled, which is a capacity slip of only 5% versus the same month last year, compared to the US capacity of over 47.4 million seats, which is a 46% decline from July 2019.

In the region, Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia show growth in domestic travel with the former’s schedule domestic flights and seats up an impressive 28% compared to the same month last year.

Cirium’s director of market development – airlines and airports Alistair Rivers said: “Cirium figures reveal a fragile but cautiously resurgent market, as the air travel attempts to recover from the worst collapse in its history... It is interesting to see China edging near the US, the previously dominant domestic market, and showing a return to similar levels of last year… It’s also encouraging that other parts of Asia are showing a resurgence, with smaller markets such as Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia showing positive YoY growth.”

India, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Thailand round up the other Asia-Pacific countries in the top 20.

The results are an encouraging sign for the domestic MICE industries in the region as the ease and availability of flights is one of the pre-requisites for travel resumption, along with safety, hygiene and social distancing concerns.

Already, Malaysia is embarking on its domestic business recovery by allowing events of up to 250 people while Thailand also allows meetings of up to 50 people, although Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is calling for further loosened restrictions to help the sector get back on track.  

Once domestic, and subsequently, regional flights are back on track, this could spur the establishment of intra-Asia Pacific travel bubbles, which would in term help in the recovery of regional meetings and evens.

Several governments are already laying the groundwork for cross-border travel. For instance, Indonesia is drawing up plans to work with China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Singapore has also launched “fast lane” arrangements with selected Chinese provinces and municipalities since 8 June, while a similar set-up is being discussed with the neighbouring Malaysia.

All these efforts have been closely watched by the industry, with planners in Northstar Meetings Group’s latest pulse survey expecting to see local meetings dominating the sector in the next 12 to 18 months.