Chinese airlines hope to narrow loss by coming holidays
Published: Apr 22, 2021 05:43 PM
Passengers prepare to check in at Beijing Daxing International Airport on April 16, 2021. Photo: cnsphoto

Passengers prepare to check in at Beijing Daxing International Airport on April 16, 2021. Photo: cnsphoto

Mrs Xiong has been feeling slightly anxious for the past few days, she can hardly book a train ticket from Beijing to Nanchang, capital of East China's Jiangxi Province in the coming holidays. 

She was not in a hurry at the first, for she thought booking the air tickets was easy, until she found the round tickets were as expensive as 3,000 yuan ($462), with no discount. Now, to save money, she turned to rail, but found the day she preferred was booked out in minutes.

Chinese people are witnessing another round of "Chunyun" or Spring Festival travel rush, after two years of travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Data from an online travel agency showed on Tuesday that since April, the number of single-day ticket bookings has risen sharply, and hit a record high on April 13. And it was also a record high in 16 years.

Lan Xiang, president of the big data research institute under, told the Global Times that the figures "show civil aviation passenger transportation has fully recovered and now is speeding up."

During the coming May Day holidays, the hot travel not only focuses on the booking of air tickets to some cities in South China's Hainan Province, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, but also the relatively cheap business routes such as from Beijing to Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province. data showed that Beijing-Chengdu topped the hottest routes, and the searching result for the Beijing-Chengdu route departing on April 30 showed that there is only business class left for flights departing around 10 pm. 

Not only the Beijing-Chengdu route, but also other popular routes such as Beijing-Shanghai and Shanghai-Chongqing have also witnessed spiraling booking numbers and prices. 

According to data from Group, during May Day holidays this year, the number of air ticket orders has surpassed the level of the same period in 2019, an increase of 23 percent, and the trips number is expected to exceed the level of May 1st in 2019 and reach a new high of 200 million.

Chinese civil aviation regulator is also in confidence. 

Shang Kejia, an official from Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said that the five-day May Day holidays will "fully release" demand in China that had been previously suppressed by the pandemic.

CAAC said 322 domestic routes were added during new season starting from the end of March, and the daily average domestic passenger flights reached 13,000, an increase of 6.6 percent over previous season. On this basis, CAAC arranged for airlines to add nearly 2,000 flights in China.

The CAAC estimates that, based on current bookings, both the volume and prices of tickets will significantly surpass the level from the same period in 2019. It also advised that passengers avoid travelling on peak days of holidays, which fall on first and last days of the May Day holidays; that is, on April 30, May 1 and May 5.

Airlines' profit recovering 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, airlines' domestic air tickets have repeatedly displayed "cabbage prices," with discounts as high as 98 percent, and some domestic routes have fares less than 100 yuan. 

For example, on March 10, the lowest fare for a flight from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province to Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, is only 49 yuan, which is 96 percent off the full price.

Although civil aviation transportation in China is currently recovering well, airlines still suffered from losses in the first quarter of this year. 

Airlines still incurred losses in the first quarter, but the extent of their losses has narrowed compared with the same period last year, CAAC said.  

In the first quarter, airlines' cumulative operating income was 87.88 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 1.1 percent, and a cumulative loss of 30.05 billion yuan was recorded, a year-on-year decrease of 4.58 billion yuan, official data showed. 

Graphics: GT

Graphics: GT

Airlines recorded a loss of 10.48 billion yuan in January, followed by a loss of 11.61 billion yuan in February, and a loss of 7.96 billion yuan in March.

Bao Yi, an official from the CAAC said that the overall recovery momentum of the industry continues to improve, but it is also facing some pressure, including some fluctuations in regional air travel demand brought by spotted COVID-19 cases.

He said passenger traffic on international routes remains low, which is also a threat for its performance. 

However, domestic demand remains on an upward trend. The total monthly turnover of civil aviation transportation from January to March recovered to 59.8 percent, 52.1 percent, and 83.7 percent of the same period in 2019, respectively.

Market watchers also predicted that the worst days for the civil aviation industry may have passed, and airline companies are expected to see their profits grow strongly as travel demand returns.