Chinese airlines industry on recovery track
Published: May 29, 2020 03:17 AM
Photo: Xinhua

China's airline industry is on the road to recovery, as data revealed that domestic demand is expected to rebound for the month of May and in-line with gradual work resumption.

China Eastern told the Global Times that average daily flights have increased by nearly 40 percent compared with April. By the end of Q2 2020, domestic flight recovery is expected to reach 70 percent, exceeding 2,000 daily flights.

By the end of May, flight service will resume from Beijing to Shanghai with 39 flights, Beijing-Shenzhen will have 29 flights, and Beijing-Guangzhou will have 14 flights. Also, popular flights from Beijing to Xi'an and Chengdu will be resumed, the company said. 

Affected by COVID-19, the three state-owned airlines suffered severe losses during Q1. 

According to fiscal reports, Air China was at a net profit loss of 4.80 billion yuan ($0.67 billion) for Q1 2020, followed by China Southern Airlines with 5.262 billion yuan in losses, and China Eastern with a 3.93 billion yuan decrease in net earnings.

Official data revealed that civil aviation flights for 2020 carried 16.71 million passengers, a year-on-year decrease of 68.5 percent.

Cargo service

To guarantee medical supplies and goods transport, Chinese air regulators launched measures aimed at air cargo flights.

China's finance ministry said on Tuesday it would offer subsidies for airlines operating from home and abroad to support the cargo industry. Passenger aircraft that undergo cargo conversion can receive up to 80 percent in subsidies for maintenance expenses.

China's Civil Aviation Administration said the country's international air cargo capacity and supply levels improved quickly. For April, domestic and foreign airlines averaged 1,574 scheduled freight flights per week, an increase of 55.2 percent from the pre-pandemic period, with 3,619 cargo aircraft converted from passenger planes in April. 

China Eastern said it had 12 cargo planes and planned to convert another 14 passenger planes to become the biggest converted fleet among competitors. 

China Eastern Airlines' converted cargo fleet offers over 300 flights weekly, more than double from the same period last year. Analysts expect the number to surpass 1,300 cargo flights for May. 

In April, China Eastern Airlines completed five cargo charter flights from Shanghai to Geneva, Switzerland. The carrier also continued to fly one cargo route from Shanghai to Geneva for three consecutive weeks, Monday through Friday.

China Southern Airlines, the country's largest air carrier, saw a rebound in both of the passenger and cargo transport in April, according to Xinhua, citing data filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

China Southern carried more than 3.84 million domestic passengers in April, up 6.13 percent month on month, and transported 55,220 tons of cargo, up 5.04 percent from the previous month.

On Sunday, it introduced two new Boeing-777 cargo planes in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, bringing its cargo fleet to 16 and flying 56 global cargo flights weekly.

By May 20, China Southern had flown over 1,000 cargo flights, carrying more than 112,000 tons of cargo to 22 countries and regions.