International air travel is likely to remain slow in the near term as doubts remain about the Omicron Covid variant, according to an aviation analyst.
Brendan Sobie, independent analyst at Sobie Aviation, said omicron has hit passenger confidence in “traveling now because things change every day.”
“The recovery that we were hoping to continue into the first half of next year, is not going to happen. This will be a setback,” Sobey told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday. “Because we don’t know much about this alternative and we don’t know what’s around the corner.”
While much is still unknown about Omicron, the World Health Organization has warned that the variant is spreading “much faster” than the Delta strain and could alter the course of the pandemic.
The highly contagious type has now been detected in at least 89 countries and some governments have been forced to impose stricter containment measures during the holiday season.
Singapore freezes new ticket sales without quarantine
Singapore said on Wednesday it would freeze new ticket sales for quarantine-free travel in a bid to limit the number of imported Omicron cases.
Singapore’s Fortified Travel Corridor program has been a major factor in the country’s pivot to the “Living with Covid” strategy, and the latest move has been a major blow to that effort. Shares of Singaporean travel companies such as Singapore Airlines fell on Wednesday after the announcement.
“Singapore Airlines will be affected by the setback in VTL lines,” Sobe noted, adding that the move would further reduce the load factor, or the percentage of seats filled.
He added that things are not going in the right direction for Asia Pacific airlines, which is “very disappointing”.
“It has been a difficult year for airlines in the Asia Pacific region – much worse than expected,” Sobe noted.
“Things seemed to be getting better. Now, unfortunately, things are going in the opposite direction.”
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