Dancers wearing Tang Dynasty (618-907) costumes stage a traditional performance near a China Eastern Airlines' aircraft during a celebration at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport in Shaanxi province in October. (Photo by Wang Jian/For China Daily)
State-owned firm sets tone for other airlines to survive and thrive amid the pandemic
China Eastern Airlines, a Shanghai-based State-owned carrier, said it aims to help strengthen domestic circulation in civil aviation and boost a dual-circulation development pattern in the industry.
In line with the larger national strategy, the domestic aviation market will serve as the mainstay, and the domestic and international markets will promote each other.
The airline said with international flights operating at low capacity due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, Chinese carriers should increase their capacities in the domestic market in the near term.
The airline's refreshed strategy is in response to the nation's newly proposed dual-circulation development pattern. The strategy says China will mainly rely on "internal circulation" or the domestic cycle of production, distribution, and consumption for its long-term development, and place equal emphasis on both the domestic and external markets as engines of economic growth.
"Better domestic circulation of flights serves as the foundation of both the dual circulation pattern and the growth of China's civil aviation market," said Shao Fengru, deputy director of the deepening reform office at China Eastern Airlines.
"China has a great potential to expand domestic demand in city clusters and metropolitan areas, as a growing number of middle-income consumers will further stimulate demand by taking more flights. Besides, the urbanization rate is still low and development in different areas is uneven, and there exists untapped demand," she said.
As the contagion increasingly comes under better control in China, the country has been leading the global recovery in the air travel market, with the number of scheduled flights in the domestic market till mid-November reaching about 80 percent of the level recorded last year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Globally, Asia is still in recovery mode. Europe and North America, where confirmed infection cases are still rising, have been struggling with new travel restrictions. Overall, the overseas air travel market has recovered to only 40 percent to 50 percent of the pre-pandemic level, according to the International Air Transport Association.