Aviation industry picks up
Domestic airlines prepare for summer market triggered by demand
Published: Jul 16, 2020 09:08 PM

An Air China flight lands at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Photo: cnsphoto

Domestic airlines are making preparations for the summer market amid a promising recovery in the industry.

The move came as China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a circular on Tuesday effectively resuming group tours across the country, although overseas tours remain suspended.

From Thursday, Sichuan Airlines has increased several domestic flights routes, including flights from Jiuzhaigou, a tourist spot in Southwest China's Sichuan to Changsha in central China's Hunan Province, and from Lhasa in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region to Chengdu. 

China Eastern Airlines said its transport capacity for domestic routes is now more than 70 percent restored and it expects to return to near full capacity in the second half of the year. 

China Eastern said it will increase its number of round-trip flights from Shanghai to Yinchuan, Xining, Shantou, Qingdao and other regions in July. At the same time, it will increase the use of wide-body aircraft on its routes between Shanghai and Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chongqing, and between Kunming and Urumqi, among others.

China Southern said it will focus on hot spots such as the Greater Bay Area, redirect the reduced capacity of international routes to the domestic market and increase flying capacities in Chengdu, Xi'an, Kunming, Hangzhou and other places through the use of wide-body aircraft. It expects that in the third quarter passenger traffic will return to 76 percent of the level seen in the same period last year and that that figure will see fast month-on-month increases.

Spring Airlines said that from July 1 this year it has begun opening more domestic routes, and each week it will open multiple new destinations. Since May 3, 47 domestic routes have been opened. 28 new routes have been opened nationwide since the beginning of July, and efforts have been made to expand the layout of domestic routes and prepare for cross-provincial tourism recovery.

From July, the number of searches volume for summer travel air tickets has increased significantly. 

Searches for group tours and self-guided travel skyrocketed by 500 percent after China announced the resumption of group tours across the country on Tuesday, while overseas tours remain suspended, data from travel agency showed.

In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, each provincial (regional, municipal) cultural and tourism department can resume group tours and flight ticket plus hotel booking for travel agencies and online tourism enterprises with the consent of the local Party committee and government, read the circular posted on the ministry's website.

The cap on visitors traveling to scenic spots has been adjusted up to 50 percent from the previous 30 percent of maximum capacity, according to the ministry.

According to data from, the search volume for summer air tickets in July increased fourfold compared to mid to late June. The search volume for air tickets in Beijing increased nine times compared to mid to late June. Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou are the top three most searched destinations for travel this summer.

"As the most representative tourism product, group tours will lead the whole sector's full resumption," said Gou Zhipeng, president of Chinese online travel agency

There are more than 5,500 group tour products on, waiting to kick off sales following approval from the relevant department the company told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China's tourism industry has been hit hard and suffered enormous losses during the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year, but with the virus gradually coming under control in the country, the tourism market is expected to recover in the second half of the year.

A survey by the China Tourism Academy showed that 80.22 percent of Chinese respondents have the willingness to go traveling in the third quarter, recovering to 90 percent of the level seen in the previous year.

According to a separate report by travel agency, consumers would like to spend more time and money on traveling and holidays in the second half of the year, including long-range trips within the country.

Over half of consumers surveyed by said that if overseas tours cannot resume by year end, they will take more trips in the country.

Civil aviation passenger traffic is gradually recovering and the passenger load factor is also gradually increasing. 

The passenger load factor of the three state-owned airlines - Air China, China Eastern and China Southern - has returned to over 60 percent so far.

To better stimulate the market, in late June, China's Ministry of Finance, along with other government departments, announced a new rule that expands the per capita quota for offshore duty-free shopping in South China's Hainan Province from the previous 30,000 yuan ($4,285) to 100,000 yuan a year. The number of categories of commodities permitted to be sold in duty-free stores has been raised to 45 from the previous 38 to include electronic products and perfumes.

However, overseas tours remain suspended for the time being.

Pang Xinghuo from Beijing Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention said they are not suggesting travelers go abroad in the summer due to the fact the numbers of cases of the virus in overseas countries are still high.