Domestic flights see 90% rebound in July, full-year outlook improves

A flight from China Southern Airline landing at Yiwu Airport in SE China’s Zhejiang Province. Photo: Lv Bin / People’s Daily Online

China’s domestic aviation industry saw a steady recovery in July with the number of flights carried out on the Chinese mainland routes a rebound of up to 90 percent, in stark contrast to the downturn in the number of international flights to the mainland, which only saw a 10 percent resumption year-on-year, data from information provider VariFlight showed.

Passenger load factors on inland routes also improved, with the average in July reaching about 71.22 percent, according to VariFlight.

The airports with the highest resumption rates include Sanya Phoenix International Airport, Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, which saw capacity use rise to more than 90 percent in July, while capacity use at some places like Beijing Capital International Airport and Urumqi Diwopu International Airport stood at 30.9 percent and 38.6 percent respectively, the lowest of the month, due to the epidemic, VariFlight data showed.

If outbreaks don’t occur on a large scale across the country, the outlook for the domestic civil aviation market in the second half of the year is still hopeful. Passenger traffic and revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) can be expected to recover to 75-90 percent compared with the same period last year, said Qi Qi, a civil aviation expert.

In order to improve passenger loads and cash flow, domestic airlines have taken measures to stimulate travel demand in the post-epidemic era.

China Eastern Airlines firstly introduced the “fly with your heart” weekend discount airfare package in the domestic market in mid-June, and so far, 12 airlines have launched this type of product, which analysts said has had a positive impact on the tourism industry.

Meanwhile, a boost from October’s National Day holiday is also considered a promising opportunity for a quick rebound of the industry since the week-long vacation encourages people to take long-distance trips. Meanwhile, oil prices are unlikely to rise further, helping aviation companies to effectively control their costs, Ma Yiliang, research fellow with the data center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, told the Global Times.

As a slower-than-expected recovery is affecting international aviation, China’s resumption has been a driving force.

Traffic, measured in RPK, fell 86.5 percent in June compared with the year-earlier period. That was only slightly improved from a 91-percent contraction in May, driven by rising demand in domestic markets, particularly China, the International Air Transport Association said on July 28.

Ma said that if the epidemic is contained, it would take another five to six months before the domestic civil aviation market fully returns to its pre-outbreak level, while the international market could take at least nine months for a complete recovery.

Source: Global Times


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