China's airlines see a fragile recovery with more people flying

But the number of daily passengers in the first three weeks of April is still much weaker than a year ago.

    Demand for air travel, which plummeted when China imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, are picking up slowly [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
    Demand for air travel, which plummeted when China imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, are picking up slowly [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

    China has recorded more people flying daily in April compared with March, but passenger levels are still far below those seen a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic continues to deter travel demand.

    China's aviation regulator said on Wednesday daily transported air passenger numbers rose 7.9 percent this month, as of April 21, from March, but was only at 29 percent of the level seen a year ago, signalling that the sector's recovery was still fragile.

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    The country's number of daily flights rose by only 1 percent in April to 6,586, amounting to just 42 percent of daily flights before the coronavirus struck, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

    The global tourism industry is closely watching trends in China for clues to travel patterns in other large markets once the virus is brought under control and curbs on movement are lifted.

    The International Air Transport Association noted on Tuesday how the number of domestic flights in China had plateaued, after an early upswing from mid-February into the first week of March.

    "Actual demand is expected to be significantly weaker as load factors on these flights are reported to be low. China accounts for some 24 percent of all domestic passengers," it said in a statement.

    The CAAC said it had almost doubled the number of weekly cargo flights to 1,989 during the week of April 20-26, from 1,014 flights before the epidemic struck. Of the 1,989 flights, 939 had been converted from civil flights, it said.

    China last month said it would increase international cargo flight capacity and stabilise supply chains amid the coronavirus outbreak.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency