ForwardKeys Global Recovery Update: China shows air traffic resilience in July

By Luke Barras-hill |

Chinese travellers contributed 68% of total air travel in the Asia Pacific region in July year-on-year, an exclusive Global Recovery Update courtesy of ForwardKeys has shown.

As part of TRBusiness’ mission to support stakeholders across the industry with added-value content during TRMarketplace week (28 September – 2 October), ForwardKeys has offered further encouraging signs of recovery in Asia Pacific, a market where domestic travel accounted for approximately 95% of total journeys in July (yoy).

Non-tier 1 city Chengdu underpinned the resilience in China’s outbound travel volumes (-12%), followed by Shenzhen (-13%) and Kunming (-20%).

Chengdu’s resilience may be down to its low percentage and reliance on international traffic when compared to the other regional airports,’ notes ForwardKeys. ‘Pre-Covid-19, Shanghai Pudong, Beijing and Guangzhou international routes represented 45%, 25% and 23% of their total traffic while in Chengdu, international routes only accounted for 9%.’


ForwardKeys observes that heightened duty free allowances – Hainan Island recently more than tripled the duty free offshore quota available to travellers – may also have spurred the desire to travel.

“The increase in Duty-Free allowances and discounted flexible air passes is working a treat in China. It gives us hope that this can transpire in other countries too,” commented Lorena Garcia, Senior Analyst at ForwardKeys.

Source: ForwardKeys. Click to enlarge.

Looking ahead to Golden Week (1-7 October), ForwardKeys’ research indicates positivity in terms of bookings, notwithstanding the vast number of last-minute bookings expected to take place as little as 0-4 days ahead of departure.

Sanya is said to be the ‘golden child’ destination as travellers flock to the duty free haven, adds ForwardKeys.

In Europe, it’s a different landscape with ForwardKeys’ data revealing international traffic accounted for two thirds of total air travel (64% versus 79% in July 2019).

Meanwhile, in the Middle East and Africa, international departures registered 84% of total departures in the region in July – very stable given this share totalled 83% when compared to the same month in 2019.

Source: ForwardKeys. Click to enlarge.

Among the top five airports, Moscow Domodedovo (DME) recorded by far the lowest decrease in departing passengers (-32%) in July in Europe year-on-year.

In the Middle East and Africa, Sharjah Airport posted the lowest decline in departure passengers (-25%).

“More often than not, the travel data we’ve been collecting in the recent weeks is showing a similar pattern: people still want to travel and if travel restrictions make it too complicated to venture abroad, they’re spending their hard-earned cash, locally,” added Garcia.



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