Capital A, the holding company for AirAsia Aviation Group has called upon governments across Asia to further ease travel restrictions in order to revive the global economy. While most countries have started to reopen their borders for international travel, there are still testing, paperwork and extra insurance requirements which are seen as hurdles for international tourism.
According to Capital A President for Commercial, Colin Currie, tourism is a major economic contributor and a lifeline for many countries in ASEAN and beyond. He shared that the tourism sector accounts for 13% of the grouping’s aggregate GDP, and 6% of total employment.
He said, “The majority of the world is now fully vaccinated and a sizable portion has also received booster shots. Data in the region also shows that the chance of hospitalisation from COVID-19 for those fully vaccinated is very small.”
“With a high percentage of people in ASEAN fully vaccinated, we believe that it is time to review the onerous deterrents still stifling air travel, including the numerous testing requirements both pre-departure and on arrival, additional paperwork and costly Covid travel insurance,” he added.
Meanwhile, AirAsia Aviation Group CEO Bo Lingam said “It is a sad fact that some of our airfares cost less than the COVID-19 tests required by many countries in Asia, making the overall cost of air travel burdensome for most of the ordinary travellers that we serve. The testing requirements, including the number and type of tests involved, should constantly be reviewed to ensure that they remain relevant, without burdening travellers nor compromising public health.”
To make matters worse, he said air travellers had to face additional paperwork and various unstandardised entry applications required by different countries. He claims these issues should be urgently reviewed as they tend to be duplicative and cause confusion among travellers.
He applauds countries such as Singapore, Cambodia, Australia and India for leading the way by doing away COVID-19 travel insurance requirements in order to draw more visitors to their respective countries. He added that both Cambodia and India have completely removed testing requirements and reduced paperwork for entry applications, while travellers heading to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and the Philippines are only required to undertake one COVID-19 test, either pre-departure or on arrival.
He shared that Malaysia is the only country in ASEAN that is still requiring two tests, both pre-departure and on-arrival, which he hopes the Government will urgently reconsider.
Bo also said, “The global recovery in air travel is very much underway. We are happy to note that many countries are already making the journey easier and more tourist-friendly. Countries that persist in trying to lock out the disease instead of managing it, as we do for other diseases, face the risk of missing out on significant economic benefits.”
Capital A emphasised that AirAsia continues to play its part in the revival by looking at ways to make air travel as affordable and hassle-free as possible for their guests, including fully contactless procedures at the airports and in the air.
Besides increasing domestic flights in Malaysia, AirAsia has resumed international flights to India and introduced international flights between Singapore and Kota Kinabalu. The low-cost carrier has recently launched its RM639 Super Plus unlimited flight pass for ASEAN, and extended the validity of its previous RM599 ASEAN Unlimited Pass.
On the issue of refunds, the airlines announced last month that it has settled 99% of RM7.6 billion worth of cash refund requests by passengers. It aims to resolve the remaining 0.8% refund requests which are valued at about RM62 million in total.
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