Countries in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region need to improve their underdeveloped, low-cost carrier network to increase and promote intra-regional travel, using Europe as a model.

The higher cost of air travel within the APAC tends to deter would-be intra-regional travellers, whereas in Europe intra-regional travel is sometimes cheaper than a domestic rail journey. APAC needs to increase its low-cost carrier (LCC) routes in order to accelerate travel recovery post-pandemic and help tourism to maintain steady growth thereafter.

APAC needs to look at Europe as a model

LCCs in Europe, such as Ryanair and easyJet, have a large network that covers the whole continent, allowing them to develop direct routes and reduce air travel costs. Countries such as India and China already have under-developed LCCs, but in order to expand intra-regional travel, they need to consider Europe’s LCC network as a model.

Although the middle class is rising in the APAC, so is inflation. This has impacted traveller sentiment within Asia. According to GlobalData’s consumer survey Q3 2021, 50% and 56% of respondents from four APAC nations surveyed (China, India, Australia, and Singapore) indicated they consider accessibility and affordability, respectively, as the most important factors that determine where they vacation. This reflects the region’s desire for inexpensive, direct connections, which are preferences to which LCCs play well.

APAC must strengthen its current low-cost footprint

Given the size and number of nations in the APAC, the region already has substantial connectivity and several low-cost carriers such as AirAsia, SpiceJet, and Go First. However, they must improve in order to get a firm foothold and expand connectivity across the region.

Furthermore, the formation of new low-cost carriers such as Akasa Air in India, which is set to begin operations by the end of the fiscal year 2022-2023, would aid the APAC in increasing air connectivity. Governments in the APAC region must support LCCs to continue growing their network in order to attract more international passengers from other regions and, as a result, improve inbound tourist income. This will not only assist tourism recovery in the immediate post-pandemic period, but will also help tourism thrive for years to come.

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