Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve all experienced feelings of intense grief and joy. We’ve had to make room for so many conflicting feelings—and realities.
As I write to you today, India is still reeling from a devastating second wave. On May 5, British Airways flew a Boeing 777-200 aircraft loaded with emergency aid to Delhi to support the Indian government as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases.
On this same day, China celebrated the last day of its Labor Day holiday, concluding a record-breaking domestic travel period for the country with more than 230 million trips taken.
Two Very Different Realities
Our Vice President of India, Poonam Makhija, is updating our team on news from Delhi. It’s been a terribly trying time. There is not a single family in India who hasn’t been personally impacted by this crisis. Travel is the last thing on their minds. And to think, just a few months ago, India’s short-haul travel boom had Indian holidaymakers flocking to Dubai and the Maldives. Now, Indians are shut out along with a ban from many countries, including the U.S. where President Joe Biden issued a proclamation restricting travel from India starting on May 4.
During India’s COVID-19 surge, the aviation community has worked tirelessly to ensure unhindered services for the movement of people in need and critical cargo including vaccines and medicines. Medical experts are saying India’s best shot at countering a future third wave is to vaccinate as many people as possible.
The Promise Of Vaccines
In China, where vaccinations rates have skyrocketed, domestic travel has rebounded and pandemic travel demand is huge. In an interview on Reuters’ podcast Breakingviews, Trip.com Group’s CEO Jane Sun spoke about her confidence in outbound travel resumption. Three telling signs are 1) travel search results, 2) high-end malls are full demonstrating Chinese buying power is strong and 3) interest and distribution of vaccines are high.
While India has suffered a distressing second wave, the impact and promise of vaccines cannot be forgotten. India’s short-haul travel boom proved the market’s pent-up travel demand is robust. In fact, Vistara airlines just announced special, non-stop flights between Delhi (DEL) and Tokyo (HND) starting 16 June 2021. Despite current lockdown measures, India will undoubtedly play a vital role in travel’s recovery.
Until then, we sit with the discomfort of knowing our colleagues, friends and loved ones in India suffer immeasurable losses. And we simultaneously hold on to the hope China’s recovery and Asia’s promise means for the world.