European airlines flocking to restart routes to China after 3 years of suspension
Published: Apr 03, 2023 04:26 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Lufthansa

Photo: Courtesy of Lufthansa

A Lufthansa A350-900 with flight number LH726 landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Sunday, marking the resumption of direct flights between Munich and Shanghai, which had been suspended for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting from April 1, 2023, Lufthansa operates three flights per week to Shanghai from Munich. The flight frequency of Munich-Shanghai will be increased to daily starting from August 1. In addition, Lufthansa will relaunch three flights per week between Beijing and Munich starting from July 1. By the end of August, altogether the Lufthansa Group will offer more than 40 weekly flights to China, according to the company. 

China has always been one of the most important markets of the Lufthansa Group since the very first Lufthansa flight landed in Beijing from Berlin in 1926, said Heiko Reitz, CCO, Lufthansa German Airlines, who is responsible for the airlines commercial activities.

"Even during pandemic, China remained the key market and now the recovery of China market is absolutely a focus of the group this year. Therefore currently we recover the flights to China by increasing more flight frequency step by step," he added.

The Shanghai-Munich route is a crucial and essential link between the German economic powerhouse of Bavaria and China's most important commercial center. A large number of Chinese companies have their European headquarters in the Greater Munich area and China is Bavaria's second largest trading partner. 

The resumption of the flight is an important response to the strong demand for services between China and Germany as well as Europe, said Jost Lammers, CEO of Munich Airport.

In 2019, we welcomed around 655,000 Chinese passengers at Munich Airport - on flights from and to China. The business travel share of passengers between Munich and China was 47 percent at that time. We expect the re-instated route to be well received and demand to increase steadily throughout the year - making the frequency increase planned for September a good decision, he added. 

More European carriers are hurrying to resume routes in recent weeks. 

KLM has announced that its summer schedule network includes 165 destinations starting from March 26, 2023. Among them, a total of 16 flights will be opened to Asian destinations, doubling the number in 2022. Currently, KLM has daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

British Airways will restart flights from Shanghai to London on April 23, and from Beijing to London on June 3. From April 23, there will be daily flights between London Heathrow Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. From June 3, the number of flights between London Heathrow Airport and Beijing Daxing Airport will increase to four a week. Virgin Atlantic will also resume daily flights between London and Shanghai on May 1.

Data from information provider VariFlight showed that the actual number of passenger flights on overseas routes reached 18,000 in March, an increase of 471 percent compared to the same period in 2022.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the recovery in air travel demand is continuing in 2023, based on January traffic results. Asia-Pacific airlines posted a 376.3 percent increase in January traffic compared with January 2022, by far the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions, IATA said.

Global Times