China's airlines to resume international flights despite COVID-19
Published: Mar 13, 2020 09:04 PM

A China Eastern Airlines cargo flight carrying more than 100 tons of fresh Chilean cherries arrives at Ningbo, East China’s Zhejiang Province on Wednesday, marking the airline’s first logistics flight connecting Ningbo and Chile. The direct link enables local residents in the East China city to enjoy fresh fruit from Chile within 72 hours after it’s picked. Photo IC

As major Chinese airlines announced the recovery of air routes, the Chinese aviation industry resumed international routes blocked by the COVID-19 outbreak.

China Southern Airlines announced on Friday it will gradually resume international flights starting Friday. More than 1,600 international flights are expected in March, China Southern Airlines told the Global Times on Friday.

The company will resume flights from Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province to Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and other regions, and will increase international cargo flights from Guangzhou and Shanghai. 

China Eastern Airlines has also resumed more than 2,700 flights and is expected to carry out about 1,300 flights per day, accounting for 50 percent of the original plan, before the change in the flight season on March 28. 

The first batch of international flights of China Eastern Airlines resumed were between Kunming, Southwest China's to Myanmar's Rangoon, and between Kunming and Myanmar's second largest city Mandalay in late February.

China Eastern Airlines dispatched an A350 on Thursday for Rome, Italy from Shanghai, bringing nine Chinese medical experts and 31 tons of medical supplies, including plasma of recovered coronavirus patients, to help Italy fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline also transported 14 locust exterminating equipment, 250 barrels of exterminating agents and 14,000 test kits for the COVID-19, to Pakistan on Monday.

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a huge decline in the transportation volume and production of the aviation industry in China. 

In February, the total transport turnover reached 2.5 billion ton-kilometers, down 73.9 percent on an annual basis. The number of passenger transports was 8.34 million, down 84.5 percent year-on-year. The volume of goods and mail delivered was 297,000 tons, down 21.0 percent compared to the previous year, data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) showed on Thursday.

The aviation industry lost 24.6 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) in February, with airlines losing 21 billion yuan, the largest monthly loss on record, according to CAAC.

The international air transport is facing serious challenges. Recently, imported cases of the COVID-19 have brought great challenges to the current epidemic prevention and control work, an CAAC official said on Thursday during a press conference.

Global Times