While many countries in the world are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, China brings some positive news. Hopefully, the situation in other areas of the world will develop in a similar way and lifting of travel-related bans will happen as soon as possible.
After the announcement that flights to Wuhan – the original epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak – will be relaunched next week, there is a new information that seems to confirm that airlines of China are starting to resume their operation.
Reuters reports that, according to the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) representative Jin Junhao, the number of domestic flights in China in March increased by 20.5% to 6533 flights compared to the previous month.
This increase suggests that the aviation industry in the world’s most populous country is gradually recovering from the recent crisis. According to the CAAC representative, a bigger demand for flights caused by relocation of workers from one Chinese region to another. However, these are only the first signs of a mild recovery, as it is just 42% of the scheduled flights operated before the coronavirus outbreak.
Airlines in many countries around the world are observing the progress in China in the hope to predict positive developments in the world’s airline industry.
Airlines in China report that the load factor is still small and they are forced to sell tickets at low rates. Another trend proves passengers mostly prefer last minute reservations.
BOCOM International financial analyst Louis Yu says China Eastern had planned to operate 40-50% of its domestic flights in March but actual demand was just around 30%.
China Southern grounded 45% of the fleet in March compared with 52% in February, according to Daiwa.
Representatives of China’s aviation market are still cautious in assessing the situation.
Regarding flight schedules, we make real-time adjustments based on market conditions, – China Eastern informed in response to a request from Reuters.
Air China expects the domestic aviation market to start growing only in June with restart of international routes by August, analysts say.
Recently SAAS has ordered to drastically reduce international flights to China in fear of re-importation of the coronavirus. Louis Yu expects in the second quarter a number of operated flights will amount to only 30-50% compared to previous years.