Chinese domestic air travel to make full recovery by the start of September

By Andrew Pentol |

Travel analytics company ForwardKeys is predicting domestic air travel in China will make a full recovery by the start of September.

ForwardKeys, which notes the progressive recovery of Chinese air travel amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, revealed domestic arrivals at Chinese airports reached 86% of 2019 levels in the second week of August.

Bookings (issued air tickets) also hit 98%, with most being for travel in mid to late August.

ForwardKeys’ forecast of a full recovery is based on four factors. Firstly, the pandemic is now under control. Secondly, domestic aviation seat capacity is set to grow by 5.7% in the final week of August, when compared to the same period in last year — and when airlines make seats available, they tend to fill them by flexing fares.

Thirdly, many school and university students are travelling ahead of the start of term in September. The final factor ForwardKeys is basing its recovery forecast on is aggressive price promotions greatly stimulating demand.

Since mid-June, nine Chinese airlines have launched 12 different offers. China Southern’s ‘Fly Happily’ promotion, for example, allows customers to fly to any destination across the country, before 6 January, for $529.


Until the end of the year, HNA is allowing passengers on its airlines to fly to and from Hainan for $386 and Xiamen Airlines is launching ‘Students Fly’, which allows first-year university students to fly between 25 August and 25 September for just $40.

Looking back, the aviation market in China bottomed in the second week of February and has slowly climbed since then. Recovery highlights include the Labour Day holiday at the start of May, resumption of group tours within China in mid-July, containment of Beijing’s second wave of Covid-19 later that month and the ruling on 20 August by the Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, that people in Beijing were no longer required to wear a mask in public.

The most notable setback was Beijing’s second Covid-19 outbreak, which caused the recovery to stall from the second week of June for one month.

Olivier Ponti, Vice President, Insights, ForwardKeys said: “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.

“The crunch question is whether heavy discounting will still be needed to maintain the recovery or whether the industry will return to profitability during the upcoming Golden Week holiday in October.”

ForwardKeys will provide more data on the rise of duty free shopping in Hainan and travel trends in domestic China during a free webinar on 17 September at 11am CEST. Click here to register.




Global Travel Retail Awards 2024: Entries now open!

TRBusiness is delighted to announce that entries to the consumer-voted Global Travel Retail...


Harding+ announces departure of Chief Brand and Culture Officer Sue Gosling

Harding+ Chief Brand and Culture Officer Sue Gosling has stood down from her...


"Growing appetite for sustainable & local products"

With international passenger traffic rebounding, consumers are demonstrating a craving for...

image description

In the Magazine

TRBusiness Magazine is free to access. Read the latest issue now.

E-mail this link to a friend