Air ticket bookings rise 300% amid surging demand, relaxed travel restrictions
Published: Jun 28, 2022 06:12 PM
A tourist poses for photos with blooming peony flowers at the Sun Island scenic area in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, May 27, 2022. Photo:Xinhua

A tourist poses for photos with blooming peony flowers at the Sun Island scenic area in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, May 27, 2022. Photo:Xinhua

China's civil aviation market is experiencing an accelerated recovery on the back of rising flights volume, with domestic summertime ticket bookings surging about 300 percent over the past week and market watchers predicting that China is witnessing a turning point as more cities are moving to lift travel restrictions.

Domestic summer air ticket bookings in the third week of June rose nearly 300 percent from the previous week, with air ticket searches growing by more than 70 percent, according to travel platform on Tuesday.

Increased demand has also driven up flight prices. The average price of domestic passenger flight tickets increased to 685 yuan ($102.4) in June from 494 yuan in March, an increase of about 39 percent, told the Global Times.

The increase is also an echo for rising demand for air travel, sparked by relaxed travel restrictions across a number of provinces and regions such as Northwest China's Qinghai, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Central China's Hubei on the eve of the traditional summer holiday season.

Huang Xingwen, vice general manager of Shanghai-based Spring Airlines, predicted that the number of domestic flights would return to pre-epidemic levels in the middle of July, as the number of passengers keeps growing.

Currently, the company is operating 8-10 flights a day at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and 4-5 flights at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, well below pre-epidemic numbers, Huang told the Global Times. But he said that flight numbers will quickly recover in the future as the summer travel peak approaches. 

But major airports in many Chinese cities have seen steady operations. Daily takeoffs and landings have remained above 400 since May, with daily passengers having exceeded 40,000, according to an official from Chengdu Shuangliu Airport in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, CCTV reported.

Other airports, such as Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, also said that daily passenger volume has recovered to 60 percent of normal levels prior to the recent COVID-19 outbreaks. 

China's travel market "welcomes its turning point as more cities in China gradually lift travel restriction crossing provinces," said. 

As South China's Hainan relaxes restriction for people from low-risk areas in Shanghai and Beijing, the number of passengers flying to the province over the past weekend from June 25 to 26 was almost double that of the weekend prior. The number of tickets to Sanya increased by 93 percent from the previous weekend, the number of tickets to Haikou increased by 92 percent, and tickets from Shanghai to Sanya saw a near 1.5-fold increase.  

Meanwhile, hotel bookings across the country over the last weekend exceeded the same period of 2019. Hotel bookings in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province increased by 58 percent over the same period in 2019, while Sanya had almost returned to 2019 levels.  

Chinese airlines are also busy mapping more aircraft to entice back passengers.  

Daily flights over the past three days ending Sunday reached more than 10,000, a recovery of about 60 percent of pre-epidemic levels, reflecting a strong recovery momentum.

Data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China showed that the number of flights has continued to decline since March and that daily flight volume at its lowest point was only about 18 percent of the normal period before the epidemic.

With the implementation of several rounds of support from the government and the improvement of national epidemic situation since May, the operation of the civil aviation sector has gradually recovered, and the pace of recovery has picked up in June, when the number of single-day flights increased from 6,489 at the beginning of the month to a maximum of 10,609, and single-day passenger traffic increased from 445,000 to a maximum of 896,000.

On Tuesday, China released new COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines, cutting short quarantine time for close contacts and international travelers from 14 days to seven days. China is also negotiating with more countries to lift travel restrictions put in place over the past two years. 

Etihad Airways said it will resume direct passenger flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing from Wednesday, with the company claiming to be the first regular direct international passenger flight to recommence services to Beijing.

Global Times