Limited pressure on neighboring airports to accept diverted arrivals from Beijing
Diverting flights limited impact on nearby airports
Published: Mar 20, 2020 06:38 PM

Aerial photo of the Phoenix-shaped terminal of Daxing Airport in southern Beijing. Photo: Courtesy of Tao Ran

China's air regulator began diverting incoming international flights from Beijing to other cities from Friday, aiming to control the number of COVID-19 cases arriving in Beijing, as data shows there is little overseas arrival pressure on those airports.

Flight CA926 from Tokyo to Beijing landed in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 6:50 pm on Friday, followed by flight CA910, which is to depart from Moscow and land in Tianjin on Saturday morning, according to data from aviation statistics provider VariFlight.

Data shows that overseas flights now account for a very limited proportion of flights landing at the airports in Tianjin, Taiyuan and Hohhot.

VariFlight showed that on Friday, a total of 80 flights are expected to land in the Hohhot airport and 28 flights were cancelled as of press time. Among the 80 flights, three are from overseas including the diverted CA926.

The Tianjin Binhai International Airport, which will receive the diverted CA910, is expected to receive 65 flights on Friday as of press time, including two overseas flights. In total, 59 flights were cancelled. 

The airport in Taiyuan on Friday is expected to receive 51 flights, with just one overseas flight from Macao.

Seven airplanes will be diverted to airports in Tianjin, Taiyuan and Hohhot until Sunday, according to a Thursday notice on the official website of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The CAAC explained that decreasing the number of imported coronavirus cases has become key to winning the battle, as the pandemic has spread to various countries and more people will return to China.

As an important aviation hub, Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) continues to receive 205 overseas flights per week connecting 33 countries and regions, and faces unprecedented risks of imported coronavirus cases, the CAAC added.

"[The move] is a good one to strictly control overseas outbreaks from spreading to Beijing," the CAAC said on Friday.

Beijing recorded six imported COVID-19 infections on Thursday, one from the US and five from the UK, bringing the capital's total imported cases to 70.

The three airports are all international airports with good operational records; They will help relieve the pressure on Beijing, although they are smaller and have lower capacities than BCIA, Lin Zhijie, an independent market watcher, told the Global Times on Friday.