Chinese airlines planning increasing number of cross-border flights, as hot tourism season kicks off
Published: Apr 01, 2024 06:17 PM
Passengers line up to board the plane to Macao at Beijing Daxing International Airport on April 1, 2024. Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Passengers line up to board the plane to Macao at Beijing Daxing International Airport on April 1, 2024. Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Driven by improved travel policies, Chinese airlines are planning more flights to draw travelers as the summer-autumn flight season began on Sunday, as aviation data showed that inbound and outbound travel has now recovered to hitting 80 percent of 2019 levels.

China Southern Airlines launches a direct route flying from Beijing Daxing International Airport to Macao on Monday, a move to further ramp up overseas flights driven by the rising demand. 

China Southern said the route will operate three times per week between April 1 to 24, with the frequency to increase to daily flights from April 25. The airline said it will boost the capacity input for more overseas routes.  

China Southern currently has launched 13 direct overseas routes from Beijing Daxing to cities such as London and Amsterdam and is considering routes from Beijing Daxing to Tehran and Riyadh.

As the summer and autumn season started on Sunday, Chinese airlines are improving their international route networks and increasing the number of international flights.

Air China said it will fly 448 routes during the new season, including 108 overseas routes, of which flights input to the Europe will be higher than that of in 2019.

Also, the carrier will increase the frequencies from Beijing to cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Frankfurt.

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 also been newly launched.

Currently, the overseas flights operated by China Southern have returned to more than 900 flights per week, representing a recovery to more than 80 percent of pre-epidemic levels. In addition to the two international routes that will soon be launched at Beijing Daxing airport, China Southern said it will also launch routes from Guangzhou to Doha, Shenzhen to Mexico City, and Shenzhen to Riyad, aiming to return to 85 percent of pre-epidemic levels by the end of the year.

The accelerated resumption of international routes has driven the growth of inbound and outbound passenger traffic. 

According to the information provider VariFlight, from March 1-March 24, the actual number of inbound and outbound flights has exceeded 42,000, of which domestic airlines have transported more than 3.8 million inbound and outbound passengers, recovering to about 80 percent in the same period in 2019. 

Observers stated that coming holidays such as the Qingming Festival and May Day holidays will further boost the travel market. 

Also, the improvement in visa policy facilitation has also led to a rebound in inbound and outbound tourism.

To date, China has inked mutual visa exemption agreements covering different types of passports with 157 countries, reached agreements or arrangements on simplified visa procedures with 44 countries and enjoyed comprehensive mutual visa exemptions with 23 countries, including Thailand, Singapore, the Maldives and UAE, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January. 

Global Times