Rail traffic down 60%, flights down 40% on first day of Spring Festival travel rush
Published: Jan 28, 2021 04:26 PM

A terminal at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Thursday Photo:courtesy of Zheng Hongfeng

The upcoming Spring Festival holiday season will see restrained trips and lower ticket prices, as China's governments at all levels asked migrant workers and holiday-goers to limit their mobility during the festival as a precaution to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Over 19 million trips are expected to be made on Thursday, the first day of 2021 Spring Festival travel rush, including 4 million by railway, 15 million on roads, 370,000 on waterways and 540,000 by air, according to data from an agency under the State Council.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) plans to facilitate 8,850 flights and 540,000 trips on Thursday, down 46.7 percent and 71 percent compared with the first day of Spring Festival travel rush in 2020.

The nation's railway system is expected to see 4 million trips on Thursday, down 66 percent year-on-year and the number of passenger trains is cut to 6,595, down 33.4 percent, according to China Railway.

The world's largest annual human migration which started on Thursday and lasts through March 8 is expected to see about 1.1 million trips, down 60 percent from the pre-pandemic level in 2019 and 20 percent form 2020, according to Ministry of Transport.

It is estimated that an average of 28 million trips will be made per day and the actual number could be further reduced, said Wu Chungeng, a spokesperson of with Ministry of Transport on Thursday.

The Yangtze River Delta region, with the densest high-speed rail network in China, saw a significant decrease in passenger flow on the first day of the travel season.

The region is expected to see just 700,000 trips on Thursday compared with 2.27 million trips on the first day of 2020 travel rush, according to China Railway Shanghai Group.

Shanghai is expected to see 102,000 departures and receive 90,000 arrivals through railway on Thursday and the tickets bound for all directions remain sufficient, local officials said.

The civil aviation transportation is expected to see 39 million passenger flight trips during the 2021 Spring Festival travel season, on par with the last year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

As of 12:00 pm, of the 14, 709 domestic passenger flights planned for Thursday, 7,638 have been cancelled, accounting for 51.93 percent, according to third-party civil aviation passenger service evaluation agency of VariFlight.

On Thursday, Beijing Capital International Airport is expected to record 37,600 trips totaling 551 flights. During the Spring Festival, the airport is expected to have 21,800 flights, with an average of 545 per day and see 1.92 million passenger flight trips with an average of 48,200 per day.

Both passenger throughput and flights have dropped significantly compared with the same period of last year, down about 63 percent in passenger flow and 45 percent in flights at Beijing Capital International Airport, said an official from the airport.

The price for air tickets have also dropped accordingly, according to online booking platforms.

Data from Chinese travel platform Qunar showed as of Monday the average price for pre-booking air tickets dropped to 651 yuan ($100), the lowest in five years. The Beijing-Sanya flight price has dropped to 610 yuan on Wednesday. The Beijing-Chongqing and Shanghai-Guangzhou routes have dropped by more than 60 percent, data from travel giant agency Ctrip showed.