New outbreak in Beijing impacting China’s passenger aviation industry

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/18 19:28:40

Beijing Capital International Airport on Wednesday Photo: Li Hao/GT

After weathering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly half a year, Chinese air carriers were just beginning to see light through the dark clouds when a new coronavirus outbreak in Beijing cast another shadow over the aviation industry. 

A total of 1,460 flights in and out of Beijing were cancelled by 8 am on Thursday, the second day after the city raised its COVID-19 emergency response status to level 2, according to data from Flight Master. 958 flights (about 76 percent) at Beijing Capital International Airport were cancelled, and 502 flights (about 84 percent) at Beijing Daxing International Airport were cancelled.

On Tuesday night, Beijing raised its COVID-19 emergency response status to level 2, under which residents planning to travel are required to test negative for the virus within seven days of their departure from the city.

The new outbreak came as China's civil aviation industry was beginning to show signs of a strong recovery.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said passenger traffic in May was 25.83 million, an increase of 54.54 percent from the previous month. According to a report from Caising Securities on June 11, it is expected that domestic air passenger traffic will normalize sometime in June, while international air passenger traffic will resume sometime in August. 

Insiders said Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines have relatively large market shares in Beijing and will be greatly affected by the virus.

The aviation industry was gradually recovering before the new virus outbreak, and business trips were increasing. Ticket sales were also on the rise in advance of next week's Dragon Boat Festival holiday. 

However, as the city on Tuesday raised its COVID-19 emergency response status, "the civil aviation industry will be hit again as traveling will be limited," market watcher Qi Qi told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"If Beijing's market can't see a quick rebound, the nation's traffic growth will be deeply impacted," VariFlight CEO Zheng Hongfeng told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Public opinion research in the first week of June showed people are more cautious about returning to travel. Just 45 percent of travelers surveyed said they intended to return to the skies within a few months of the end of the pandemic. 36 percent said that they would wait another six months. That is a significant shift from April 2020 when 61 percent said that they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding, and 21 percent said that they would wait about six months, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Global Times


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