Chinese airlines in narrowed financial losses expand overseas routes as summer-autumn flight season starts
Published: Mar 30, 2024 06:03 PM
A plane lands in an airport in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: VCG

A plane lands in an airport in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: VCG

Chinese airlines, which reported narrowed financial losses, are expanding their overseas routes as the summer-autumn flight season begins on Sunday. This comes amid a series of support measures including visa-free policies aimed at boosting tourism.  

China Eastern Airlines, along with its subsidiaries Shanghai Airlines, China United Airlines and OTT Airlines, will operate more than 1,240 overseas flights per week on average, recovering to 90.8 percent of the same period in 2019. New routes, such as Shanghai-Riyadh and to Vienna, have been opened. 

The flight volume to Europe, Oceania, the Middle East and other places has exceeded the level of 2019. Among them, routes to Hungary, Spain, Dubai and Malaysia have far surpassed the pre-epidemic levels, reaching twice the volume seen in 2019, China Eastern said.  

China Southern Airlines, along with its subsidiaries, will operate 188 overseas routes, reaching destinations including Europe, the US and Australia. A number of new overseas routes will be opened from Guangzhou to cities such as London Gatwick and Doha. 

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Daxing International Airport

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Daxing International Airport

 Beijing Daxing International Airport announced on Friday that there will be an average of 62 international passenger flights per day in the coming season, as well as an average of 14 passenger flights per day in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. The flying network will cover 40 destinations including Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore.

The airport said it will increase international flights as the global aviation market continues to recover.

China Eastern also stated it will add eight overseas routes from Beijing Daxing International Airport in the new flight season. These routes will utilize wide-body aircraft to accommodate more passengers. 

Specifically, the routes from Beijing Daxing to Moscow and Macao will increase to daily flights, and the route to Kuala Lumpur will resume on April 24. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said on Friday that it has approved a total of 122 domestic and foreign airlines' applications for 12,656 weekly international passenger flights, covering 66 overseas countries. 

Passenger flight volume continues to grow, according to the new flight seasons' plan, said CAAC, highlighting that flights to neighboring markets such as Vietnam, Japan, Laos, Russia are rising fast.

The rapid recovery of international routes has coincided with the narrowed losses of major airlines. The losses of three giants, Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, significantly narrowed last year.

Air China's net loss shrank by 97 percent to 1.04 billion ($138 million) in the year ended on December 31 from the previous year, followed by narrowing losses of 87.12 percent for China Southern and narrowing losses of 78 percent for China Eastern.

Wang Zhen, who is responsible for China Southern's marketing, said that the airline is gradually opening and resuming international flights, and it is expected that international flights will recover to more than 80 percent in the summer and autumn peak seasons of 2024, according to on Saturday. 

China reported 2.95 million inbound and outbound trips made by foreigners in the first two months of 2024, an increase of 2.3 times compared with the previous period and equivalent to 41.5 percent of the level prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an official on Friday quoting data from the National Immigration Administration.

The willingness of foreigners to visit China has increased, partly thanks to a series of support measures including visa-free policies and easing of problems for foreign visitors like payment hurdles, according to the official.

Global Times