Airlines eager to resume international routes amid rise in demand
Published: Oct 14, 2022 09:39 PM
A flight of China Southern Airlines Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

A flight of China Southern Airlines Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Airlines from home and abroad are flocking to resume international routes in October amid surging demand and a more relaxed travel policy.

China Eastern Airlines said on Monday that it plans to resume a number of international routes by the end of October, including those from Kunming to Bangkok and Hangzhou to Tokyo. 

The flying frequencies will also be increased on such routes as those from Phnom Penh to Kunming and from Qingdao to Dubai. 

China Eastern plans to double its weekly international flights to 108 as of October 30. 

Since July this year, China Eastern has gradually resumed a number of international routes such as Hangzhou to Manila and Hangzhou to Kuala Lumpur. As of mid-October, it has 54 overseas flights per week.

China Southern Airlines said on Friday it plans to increase international routes from 71 flights per week to 86 in October, with more flights on routes such as Guangzhou to Jakarta and Dalian to Tokyo.

The Guangzhou-Dubai route will increase to three round-trips per week from October 27; the Guangzhou-Bangkok route will have one round-trip per week from October 24; and the Guangzhou-Phnom Penh route will be increased to one round-trip per week from October 18, the company said in a press release sent to the Global Times.

Hainan Airlines said that it will fly 10 international routes from October 30, including flights from Beijing to Brussels, Moscow and Belgrade, and from Chongqing to Rome and Madrid. At the same time, the frequency of Chongqing-Rome international flights will be increased to twice a week.

Foreign airlines are also busy returning to China. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), launched its first-ever scheduled flights linking Abu Dhabi and Guangzhou on Tuesday. The flight touched down at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, making it the first international airline to operate long-haul passenger services to the top three Chinese gateways - Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou - since the start of the pandemic, the company told the Global Times.

Scoot said on Friday that it has resumed flights to seven cities in Chinese mainland - Guangzhou, Tianjin, Nanjing, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou and Wuhan - to further strengthen the aviation ties between China and Singapore.

Singapore Airlines restarted passenger flights between Chengdu and Singapore on Tuesday.

The number of international flights has surged in October. Data from information provider VariFlight showed that the number of international flights per week in early October more than doubled the number in early June.

Cui Xiaofeng, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said that China's international passenger flights will resume at an accelerated pace, and the huge potential of China's air transport market will be further released.

At present, there are more than 320 international passenger flights per week, covering over 60 countries and regions, and the number of international cargo flights now stands at about 4,000 per week.

Data from industry information provider VariFlight sent to the Global Times showed that flights in and out of China have witnessed soaring demand in the past two months. 

The number of flights in September was 2,337, with an average of about 78 flights per day. 

From October 1-14, the number of flights was 1,227, with an average of about 88 flights per day, an increase of 21 percent compared with the average daily number of flights from September 1-14, which was 72.

South Korea, Japan and Thailand are the top three destination countries in September and October, data showed.

Chinese overseas flights began to increase in August, after the Chinese government said that it would increase domestic and international passenger flights to facilitate personnel exchanges.

Starting from August 7, any flight with five detected COVID-19 cases was to be suspended for one week when the confirmed cases account for 4 percent of all those onboard, and for two weeks when the confirmed cases account for 8 percent, the CAAC said.

However, despite the recent recovery, the current volume of international flights to and from China is still only 4 to 5 percent of that in 2019, so there is still a long way to go to return to normal.

Global Times