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Airline recovery, ticket prices holding back PHL travel growth – Trip.com

By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

SHANGHAI — The airline industry recovery and ticket prices remain constraints on hotel and travel industry growth, according to Singapore travel booking service Trip.com Group.

Trip.com Assistant Vice-President for International Markets Yi Ru said the Philippine hotel industry remains slow due to the limited airline capacity for inbound travelers.

“We still need more flight recovery (in the Philippines). We have the honest demand to be able to bring a lot of travelers from all major countries to the Philippines,” she said at a media briefing last week.

“Flights are our bottleneck; if they don’t recover first, then hotels won’t be able to recover. So I think specifically for the Philippines, maybe flight capacity is the challenge,” she added.

She cited the need to add more capacity to and from China to bring more inbound tourism to the Philippines.

“As long as there are few direct flights and limited capacity, that means prices will be high. And customers, during their whole booking journey, always look at how much the cost of the flight is first and then only think about the other expenses,” she added.

Trip.com has communicated to airlines and the government the need to add capacity, she said.

Asked about which other countries need to add capacity, she said: “Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia… we see the huge demand from Vietnam, which is being limited by flight capacity.”

She said airlines are nearly there in returning to pre-pandemic capacity levels, at least in the top destinations, led by visa-free entry countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

On the sidelines of the Envision Conference last week, Jane Sun, chief executive officer of Trip.com, said that the group is looking to grow faster than the industry average in terms of recovering its 2019 levels of business.

“The travel market recovered by 70% based on flight capacity. The industry estimates the market to recover 80%, and Trip.com hopefully will far exceed that number,” she added.

Ms. Sun said that some regions have still not fully recovered in terms of airline capacity, such as the US, which is at 40% recover, and Europe, which is at 60–70%.

“But there are certain regions that do very well, such as the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, which include Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia,” she said.