Civil aviation travel heats up in China following Spring Festival holidays
Published: Mar 11, 2021 08:13 PM
A plane with China Southern Airlines takes off. Photo: IC

A plane with China Southern Airlines takes off. Photo: IC

Although the Spring Festival transport data is not optimistic, the rebound after the Spring Festival holidays is also obvious in China. The civil aviation travel is heating up rapidly after the holidays, as the number of civil aviation travels is picking up. 

More signs showed that coming holidays falling on Qingming Festival or even the May Day holiday are expected to usher in a wave of small peaks of returning home.

This year's Qingming Festival or Tomb-Sweeping Day, a time for Chinese people to pay tribute to their ancestors, is on April 4.

Travel platform data shows that the current domestic air ticket bookings during the Qingming Festival, are close to the level of the same period in 2019. 

The Chengdu-Nyingchi, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region round-trip route is the most popular route. After the Qingming Festival, the temperature in northeast China will rise, and people who go to Sanya, South China's Hainan Province to escape the cold will return home one after another, making Sanya-Harbin route another popular choice.

Not only is travel picking up, but hotel bookings also reflect same trend in tourism industry. Qunar data shows that as of March 9, hotel reservations for Qingming Festival have increased 4.5 times year-on-year. Wuhan located in Central China's Hubei Province entered the Top 10 most popular cities.

Many stayed in the city during the Spring Festival adhering to government's stay-put policy, making the number of passengers traveling during the holidays lower than in previous years. 

After the holiday, the number of civil aviation travels is picking up. So far in 2021, the number of passengers booking domestic routes has returned to the level of 2019, which depends on the first recovery of business travel, Lan Xiang, president of the big data research institute under, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Data released by civil aviation service evaluation brand CAPSE showed that over half of the tourists who have not returned home during the Spring Festival holidays have plans to return home after the holidays. 

Tourists' willingness to travel in March increased significantly compared with February. Among them, the business travel willingness quickly recovered. 

Beijing and Shanghai were the first-choice destinations for business travel of tourists in March; the willingness to travel also recovered quickly, and Sanya was the first choice for tourists.

According to the statistics of the FlyMaster, the overall passenger load factor of the flight on March 1 has reached 70.64 percent, which is a big increase from the 52.02 percent of passenger load factor one month ago.

Graphics: GT

Graphics: GT

Bouncing Back

Current predictions contrast starkly from the performance one month ago, as the number of passengers carried by Chinese airlines during this year's Spring Festival travel rush was less than half the level two years ago, reduced by the global pandemic.

Chinese airlines carried 35.39 million passengers in the 40-day travel rush, which ended on Monday, down 7.78 percent from 2020 - and also down by more than 50 percent from 2019, data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) showed on Monday.  

CAAC said that the average passenger load factor during that period increased by 4.59 percentage points compared with the same period in 2020, but it was down by 18.77 percentage points compared with the same period in 2019.

The CAAC said the number of passenger trips during the Spring Festival holidays this year was significantly lower than in previous years. 

The Chinese government in January encouraged people to stay in place over the holidays to reduce the risk of infections during the travel rush, following the resurgence of sporadic COVID-19 cases at that time.

CAAC said on Monday that it is taking measures to relieve market pressures, including increasing the number of applications for flights on various routes to flexibly arrange capacity in accordance with market demand.

Some provinces are also taking measures on their own. An official from East China's Zhejiang Province said on Monday that the province will permit out domestic tourism in low-risk areas and gradually resume tourist routes that were suspended during the epidemic.

China Southern Airlines said on Wednesday that it will focus on domestic travel, and this year it will further increase investment in domestic market capacity, as the recovery of the international aviation market still needs time. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Tuesday announced results from its latest poll of recent travelers, revealing growing confidence in a return to air travel, frustration with current travel restrictions, and acceptance of a travel app to manage health credentials for travel.

Survey responses reveal that people are becoming more confident to travel. Those expecting to travel within a few months of "COVID-19 containment" now account for 57 percent of survey respondents (up from 49 percent in September 2020). This has been further boosted by the vaccine rollout which indicates that 81 percent of people will be more likely to travel once vaccinated. And 72 percent of respondents want to travel as soon as possible after COVID-19 is contained to see friends and family, IATA said.