China air travel demand rebounds – Bloomberg

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Domestic flight activity in China has strongly picked up on the back of the latest Covid easing plan, soaring to around 65% of pre-pandemic levels at the start of this week, Bloomberg reported, citing aviation data. That’s equivalent to several thousand flights per day returning to the skies.

Ticket sales for the upcoming Lunar New Year period have reportedly also surged. Holiday bookings are expected to reach their highest level in three years, rising to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, Guo Lechun, an analyst with Qunar’s data research arm Qunar, was cited by the outlet as having said.

The report highlighted that air travel searches rocketed 900% on December 7, the day the government announced the dismantling of most Covid restrictions, including mass testing and snap lockdowns.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global aviation industry, including in China, which has the largest domestic air travel market. Data shows that the nation’s top carriers – China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Air China – have racked up losses of 152 billion yuan ($21.8 billion) since the start of 2020.

They will probably eke out a small profit in 2023 before generating record earnings in 2024, head of transport research for Asia Pacific at HSBC Holdings, Parash Jain, told Bloomberg.

“If you look at around the world, air ticket prices are materially higher than in 2019,” Jain said, adding: “But when you look at China’s domestic air tickets, even into the third quarter of 2022, it’s about 15% lower than that of 2019.”

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