Recovery of intl routes steady as domestic market already hits pre-pandemic levels
China's Civil Aviation Authority will continue in its efforts to promote the steady and orderly resumption of international flights with the approach of the first summer season since optimized COVID-19 management measures took effect, an official from the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Friday.
From June 5 to 11, the number of international inbound and outbound passenger flights stood at 5,822 and linked 61 countries, said Li Yong, deputy director of the administration's safety office.
Li made the remarks at a news conference in Beijing.
"The number of international passenger flights is expected to increase to more than 6,000 every week during the summer travel season," he said, adding that the administration will continue to review applications by Chinese and foreign airlines looking to operate flights in a timely manner to ensure the safe, smooth and orderly recovery of global air travel into and out of China.
Since COVID-19 management was upgraded in January, the number of international flights entering and leaving China has grown steadily.
In April, 58 countries resumed international flights to China, about 80 percent of the number offering services before the pandemic.
At the beginning of April, there were about 4,000 weekly international flights, more than four times the volume between Jan 2 and Jan 8, the week before the new policy came into effect.
The figure is still about 26 percent of the number of flights before the pandemic, according to Liang Nan, director of the transport department of the CAAC.
She also noted in January that if the market recovers, the number of international flights to and from China by the end of the year should reach about 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with about 7,300 flights per week.
In April, regular scheduled flights began operating between Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, and Astana, capital of Kazakhstan. And this month, direct flights between Beijing and London are being resumed.
Not only will international flights be increased during the summer season, China anticipates strong demand for domestic travel this summer as well, with people going on vacation and visiting relatives and friends, Li said.
Combining domestic and international flights, an estimated 1.95 million passengers are expected to fly every day, with the number of flights reaching 16,500, about the same figure as before the pandemic, Li said, adding that the administration has made preparations for the summer season.
Crowds can once again be seen at airports, with passengers lining up to pass through security checks.
"I am very happy to see the airport crowded again, unlike how quiet it was during the pandemic," said Feng Liwei, who works at the operation control center at Beijing Capital International Airport.
According to Li, the administration has recently issued a notice to encourage the addition of flights on popular domestic routes, flight optimization, and to encourage airlines to expand services to smaller cities to meet travel needs during the peak season.
It is estimated that an average of 13,600 domestic passenger flights will operate every day, carrying 1.83 million passengers, an increase of 11 percent and 7 percent respectively compared to 2019, he said.
As China's civil aviation market continues to recover, the sector handled 51.7 million passenger trips last month, about 94.8 percent of the volume during the same period in 2019. The figure represents a 2.8-percent growth on April.
The scale of domestic passenger trips has increased by 2.6 percent compared to the same period in 2019, according to the administration.