Chinese aviation market rebounds with daily flights hitting 12,000 amid govt support
Hard-hit sector sees V-shaped recovery with strong govt support
Published: Jul 12, 2022 10:04 PM
Beijing airport Photo: VCG

Beijing airport Photo: VCG

China's civil aviation market is experiencing a strong recovery with government support, with total number of flights exceeding 12,000 on some days in July, more than 60 percent of pre-epidemic levels, according to officials on Tuesday.   

"The civil aviation sector has shown a V-shaped recovery," Wu Shijie, an official from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said during a press conference.

So far in July, flights exceeded 10,000 per day, the official said, highlighting that on July 8 and again on July 10, the country witnessed more than 12,000 flights, recovering to 64.5 percent of pre-epidemic levels.

CAAC officials noted that the domestic passenger market has shown green shoots of recovery over the past several months, citing traffic data. Volume in April recovered to 14.8 percent of the same period of 2019, and the recovery rate grew to 46.2 percent in June.  

The recovery momentum has also been clear for air cargo. In April, cargo volume was 69.8 percent of the same period in 2019, and it jumped to 89.7 percent in June. The overseas cargo business in June grew by 1.8 percent from the same period last year.

In the week from July 4 to 10, daily passenger trips hit 1.2 million, with the number of flights reaching 71,000, a month-on-month increase of 12 percent, according to data from information provider VariFlight sent to the Global Times.

However, the Chinese aviation industry went through a difficult first half, with the number of daily flights sliding to a low of 2,967, only 17.8 percent of the same period in 2019. The number of passenger trips stood at 118 million, a decline of 51.9 percent compared with the same period of last year, and returning to 36.7 percent for the same period of 2019.

Song Zhiyong, head of the CAAC, said in a recent meeting that the domestic civil aviation industry has accumulated losses of nearly 300 billion yuan ($44.63 billion) since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, according to

The airlines' asset-liability ratio has reached 82.2 percent, an increase of 11.9 percentage points compared with before the pandemic, and the asset-liability ratio of 12 airlines has exceeded 100 percent, he said, 

To help the hard-hit industry, the government has provided targeted financial support, injecting 3 billion yuan each for Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, 2 billion yuan for Capital Airport Holdings, and pre-allocating 3.29 billion yuan in central subsidy funds for the first phase of domestic passenger flights.

In terms of credit, on top of emergency loans of 65.6 billion yuan for airlines and airports, the CAAC has issued additional emergency loans worth 150 billion yuan for airlines.

The regulator said it will continue to step up measures such as improving slot allocations and flight approvals to help airlines out of trouble.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on July 7 that "the easing of Omicron restrictions in China helped to alleviate supply chain constraints and contributed to a performance improvement in May."

"The return of Asian production as COVID-19 measures eased, particularly in China, will support demand for air cargo. And the strong rebound in passenger traffic has increased belly capacity, although not always in the markets where the capacity crunch is most critical. But uncertainty in the overall economic situation will need to be carefully watched," read a statement, citing Willie Walsh, IATA's director general.

Despite lingering challenges, global confidence in the Chinese civil aviation market remains solid. Airbus on Monday predicted that China will need an additional 8,420 new airplanes over the coming 20 years through to 2041, compared with a forecast of 8,220 made last year.

China may be the busiest aviation market over the next few years given strong market growth, the European plane manufacturer said in a Global Market Forecast for 2022, highlighting China's market potential.