Airlines welcome summer surge as travel season helps boost traffic
Travel season helps boost Chinese carriers
Published: Jul 08, 2021 05:13 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The summer travel season for civil aviation has kicked off and tourism has seen a sharp upswing boosted by travelers, providing welcome relief for the country's major airlines and airports. 

China Eastern Airlines said it plans to fly 180,000 flights to serve summer passenger travel during July and August, and map its flying capacity to northeast China and northwest China.

Air China said it will arrange more than 86,000 passenger flights for the summer peak, and open two new routes from Tianfu airport in Southwest China's Sichuan Province to Beihai in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and from Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province to Hailar in North China's Inner Mongolia in the summer. The airline also plans to utilize wide-body aircraft for some hot destinations.

Hainan Airlines said it will increase its flight capacity and increase the daily utilization rate of aircraft. It is expected that the number of flights during the summer peak will reach nearly 800 per day, flying to nearly 100 destinations.

A report released by industry information provider Flight Master showed that the total number of flights planned in China is 967,745 during this summer holiday, an increase of 2.88 percent year-on-year compared with 2019, and an increase of nearly 38.07 percent year-on-year compared with 2020.

Graphics: GT

Graphics: GT

The report said the top 10 airlines are still the major carriers such as China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, but the small carriers including Spring Airlines, Juneyao Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines are the top three with the biggest increase in terms of the flying capacity than 2019, of which Spring Airlines gained an increase of 32 percent, the biggest jump.

Under the premise that there is no resurgence of the coronavirus, it is expected that the number of flights planned for summer transport will increase later on as passengers' travel confidence improved.

Meanwhile, the price of summer air tickets this year is likely to increase compared with the same period in 2020, and the peak period may reach or exceed the same period in 2019.

Chinese online travel platform said the average domestic air ticket price this summer is 771.8 yuan ($119), an increase of about 8 percent compared with the same period in 2020, but a decrease of 11.4 percent compared with the same period in 2019. Although the overall prices are lower than pre-epidemic level, specific periods like the end of July, early August and late August will see higher price than in 2019.

Red tourism destinations have been launched in various places across China this year, and the boom continues to heat up, which may become a new growth point for the aviation industry. 

In June, the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a guide time to promote one hundred red tourism routes, a support for red tourist routes, such as Jinggang Mountains, known as "the cradle of the Chinese revolution," in East China's Jiangxi Province and Zunyi Conference memorial hall in Southwest China's Guizhou Province.

According to data, the average price of red travel air tickets has decreased by 142 yuan from the same period in 2019, and the number of bookings increased by 24 percent from January to May.

Industry watchers said the hot summer travel will give another boost for the recovery of Chinese aviation industry, as airlines' passenger turnover is still making a strong recovery over recent months.

Major domestic carriers reported positive year-on-year growth in terms of passenger turnover in May, although there was a slight decline from the previous month. The figures showed that domestic passenger travel is continuing to heat up.

Air China said its passenger turnover in May increased by 113.1 percent year-on-year, and China Eastern said its passenger turnover in the month increased by 126.2 percent from the same period last year, while Juneyao's passenger turnover was up 126 percent year-on-year.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced in June that domestic travel demand improved in April 2021 compared to the previous month, as total demand for air travel in April 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers) was down 65.4 percent compared to April 2019, still representing an improvement over the 66.9 percent decline recorded in March 2021 versus March 2019.

China's domestic traffic has essentially returned to pre-virus levels of growth, with demand up 6.8 percent in April compared to April 2019. In March, demand was flat compared to the same month two years ago, IATA said.

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