A global travel data firm has said by the start of next month, flights within China should fully recover. Since the novel coronavirus pandemic resulted in the grounding of the majority of planes in China February, there has been a gradual pick up in air travel in the country,
According to figures from ForwardKeys, domestic arrivals at Chinese airports reached 86 per cent of levels of 2019 this month.
The prediction made by the data firm provides a glimmer of hope for the airline industry which has been severely hit by the pandemic and consequent mass layoffs and huge losses.
With measures implemented by the Chinese government to try and prevent the spread of the virus, majority of the flights within China were cancelled.
But with the reduction in the cases of the virus, there were re-instatement of more flights and currently the bookings are now back to 98 per cent in which most of the bookings are for travelling in mid to late August.
“This is a highly significant moment because it is the first time, since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, that a major segment of the aviation market anywhere in the world has returned to pre-pandemic levels,” said Olivier Ponti at ForwardKeys.
A number of factors were taken into consideration in the forecast made by ForwardKeys which included considerations of the world being able to keep the pandemic under control as well as the continued use of “aggressive price promotions”.
Discounts to entice passengers back have launched by many Chinese airlines which included promotions aimed to attract university students.
A new duty-free policy has helped in the strong recovery of Sanya, the holiday hotspot in the South China Sea.
“The crunch question is whether heavy discounting will still be needed to maintain the recovery,” added Ponti. “China’s advantage is that they have a huge domestic hinterland, and they have a strong domestic tourism market, which can help the Chinese carriers mitigate any impact,” added Alfred Chua at FlightGlobal magazine.
But air travelling by Chinese to Beijing is still lower by 24.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2019 as this is held back by the second coronavirus outbreak in early June in the city.
In an otherwise bleak outlook for the aviation industry, the one positive development is the recovery in domestic air travel in China. But it is expected that it will be many years for international flights to fully recover.
Global passenger numbers will not return to pre-virus levels until 2024, which is a year more than was previously forecast by the International Air Transport Association, a global industry group. It said with travel bubbles are established between countries, short haul travel recovery is expected to happen faster than long haul travel.
“At least for the rest of the year, I think we will see two very distinct patterns: domestic will be recovering very quickly, with international networks still very weak,” added Chua.
(Adapted from BBC.com)