China’s epidemic response helps planes get back in skies
Published: Feb 25, 2021 07:08 PM

A Southern Airlines aircraft takes off from Shenzhen Baoan International Airport on February 13. Photo: VCG



Although strict prevention measures in various cities have curbed passenger travel, China's domestic flight activities have rebounded significantly over the past few days. Market watchers and insiders said China's aviation industry is expected to record a V-shaped recovery in the short term, which will greatly increase the confidence of aviation industry.

Industry information data VariFlight showed that China civil aviation ushered a high-speed rebound after the second bottom, such as the passenger load factor of domestic routes after the Spring Festival holiday was above expectations, as the passenger load factor exceeded 70 percent on Sunday, a new high in the two months since 2021.

On Sunday, civil aviation transported 1.17 million passenger trips, nearly 3.5 times that of the same period in 2020.

It predicted that more than half of the tourists who did not return home during the Spring Festival have plans to return home after Spring Festival holidays, and it is expected that Qingming and May Day holidays will once again see a small peak of returning home.

 Aviation and travel data and analytics Cirium said on February 3, about 2,250 passenger planes operated by Chinese companies flew at least once, but more than 1,500 did not fly. However, as of February 10, there were nearly 2,400 aircraft in service. 

Although it is not yet possible to determine to what extent the increased flight activity is driven by increased passenger demand, the rapid improvement in market conditions has greatly increased the confidence of the airline industry.

Compared with the global aviation industry, China's aviation industry in 2020 has benefited from the macro economy and multiple government support measures, and the industry has taken the lead in getting out of the mire, caacnews.com.cn reported, citing Johnny Lau from consulting firm PwC. "China's aviation industry is recovering steadily."

The Chinese economy in 2020 expanded 2.3 percent, according to China's statistics bureau said, boosted by a strong recovery in the second half after consumption, investment and export all gained pace. That made the country the only major economy in the world to eke out an expansion, while others, facing a voracious virus onslaught, contracted.

The bottoming out of China's macro-economy has laid a good foundation for some industries that had been hit hard by the epidemic, especially the aviation industry. Although the passenger traffic of civil aviation has fallen again due to the epidemic in late 2020, VariFlight predicted that starting from February, the domestic flight volume and passenger traffic volume will gradually return to the level of the second half of 2020. 

The aviation industry's "worst crisis in history" will continue beyond 2021, but Chinese civil aviation is likely to continue leading the global recovery in 2021, said Philippe Bardol, Safran General Delegate for China and CEO of Safran China. 

Over the past year, China was efficient in controlling the epidemic, allowing the country's civil aviation sector to recover at a rapid pace. For instance, the number of China's domestic flights in last December was close or some days even higher than during the same period of 2019, with even more new routes added across the country. 

Benefitting from this encouraging market environment, Safran has made important achievements in China last year, including supporting customers' aircraft deliveries in China, notably with Airbus A320s and COMAC's ARJ21s, both equipped by Safran, the president said, according to Chinanews.com on Wednesday. 

Overseas travel

Overseas travel has shown some sign of loosing. 

Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) said that all travelers entering Macao from the Chinese mainland are exempted from the 14-day medical observation or self-health management starting from Tuesday, which means Macao lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions on all visitors from the mainland.

More carriers also are in preparation for the possible flying between countries. 

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has become the first airline in the world with all its operating pilots and cabin crew vaccinated.

China Tourism Academy predicted that with the spread of COVID-19 vaccine gaining speed and the effectiveness of the vaccine being higher than many thought possible, the inbound and outbound tourism market is expected to resume in the second half of the year and recover to about 30 percent of the pre-epidemic year.

It predicted that international tourism is expected to also resume in the second half of 2021, and outbound tourism with a stagnation period of more than one year is also expected to restart on a large scale.

CICC also said if the Chinese civil aviation regulator scraps the "Five-One" policy, the outbound travel will see an explosive growth, and the revenue and fares of international routes may exceed expectations, thereby driving the airline's performance to exceed expectations.


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