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More flights in Asia may cause airfares to fall, but it surely may take time

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Many flights that were canceled in the course of the pandemic are returning to the skies this month.

Last week, Singapore Airlines and Scoot announced they’re adding dozens of flights to cities across Asia. Citing strong demand and relaxed border restrictions, each airlines announced more flights between Singapore and Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Scoot is bringing back twice-weekly flights to Yogyakarta and Pekanbaru in October too.

Many of the flights are reinstated ones, but Scoot’s adding a number of latest routes. This month, it’ll start flying from Singapore to Lombok and Makassar, Indonesia. Scoot can be adding a seasonal nonstop flight to Sapporo for travelers who need to hit the slopes in Japan this winter.

Each airlines are gearing up for more flights to China. Singapore Airlines launched services to Beijing in September; this month, it’ll start flying to Chengdu, with a second weekly flight going to Shenzhen. Scoot is already flying into 4 Chinese cities, with flights to Wuhan and Zhengzhou starting this week.

Scoot is not the only budget carrier ramping up services within the region. Cebu Pacific is restarting its first international route from Davao to Singapore this month. And AirAsia is resuming several flights between Malaysia and Indonesia, including a latest route linking Bali to Penang.

On the heels of Hong Kong’s relaxed border restrictions, Cathay Pacific’s budget carrier HK Express announced plans so as to add greater than 400 flights linking Hong Kong to Singapore, Bangkok and several other cities in Japan before the top of the yr.  

More flights, cheaper airfare?

James Marshall, vice chairman of worldwide air at Expedia Group, told “Squawk Box Asia” Monday that limited flight decisions for travelers in Asia “was one in all the explanation why pricing was quite high.”

“The proven fact that airlines are increasing their capability is a superb thing,” he said. But as for whether flight prices are at their peak straight away, Marshall said, “It’s totally difficult to say.”   

One issue is that the industry continues to struggle with staffing shortages. The Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, an expert association representing Cathay Pacific pilots, warned last week that due to lack of staff “air fares will proceed to rise as a consequence of low supply combined with a high demand” — a situation that can inconvenience Hong Kong for “a few years.”

Staffing problems were blamed for the travel chaos in Europe and North America last summer — an issue Asian airlines don’t desire to repeat, said Marshall.

“Airlines in Asia-Pacific have been very careful on how they manage the rise … ensuring that they get staffed at the appropriate level so we do not find yourself with operational issues that we have seen in other regions,” he said.

If airlines remain cautious about adding latest flights and demand stays strong — especially with the Christmas travel season closing in — cheaper airfares will not be realized for a while.

“We’re obviously optimistic concerning the opening and reduce of capability, however the demand continues to be very strong, especially towards the top of the yr,” said Marshall.

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