The Lunar New Year is right around the corner, and it looks like the Chinese aviation market is recovering quite well as people from all over the country prepare to travel for the occasion. While international travel in and out of the country has yet to recover at the same rate, data from Cirium shows that flights within China’s borders have essentially recovered compared to pre-pandemic levels. Let’s look a little more closely at this positive news.

2019 vs 2023

According to Cirium, the number of scheduled flights from China during January 2023 will almost reach the same number as was experienced four years prior. In fact, projections put January 2023 flights at 99.8% of January 2019 levels.

Over the course of January, more than 408,800 flights are scheduled to takeoff from Chinese airports, which equates to over 69.4 million seats. The majority of flights are domestic, however. This may be due to recent testing requirements that have been imposed on the country by a number of governments around the world.

Indeed, domestic travel this month has actually surpassed the number of domestic flights in January 2019 – up 9.5%. Unfortunately, it’s not the same when crossing borders as international departures from China remain 89.8% down in January 2023 compared to the same month in 2019.

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A season of mostly positive news

Despite testing requirements imposed by a number of countries against travelers coming from China, most organizations in the aviation industry have been adapting to the country’s uptick in air travel, which was spurred on by a relaxation of border restrictions.

On January 16th, Emirates announced that it would increase its services to China in light of relaxed COVID travel restrictions. Starting today, January 20th, Emirates will start operating twice-weekly flights between Dubai and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, as well as Beijing. Additionally, from February 1st, Emirates will add three more weekly flights to its Dubai-Guanzhou service.

Days later, Sydney Airport announced a list of increased services connecting the major Australian city to various Chinese cities. China Southern Airlines will be increasing its Sydney-Guangzhou flights to daily from February 3rd. This will increase to 10 services per week from late March. Additionally, Air China will resume flights to Sydney on February 3rd while Xiamen Airlines will be resuming its twice-weekly lights between Fuzhou and Sydney from February 5th. Finally, China Eastern will be increasing the number of weekly flights between Sydney and Shanghai from February 2nd.

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China Southern Boeing 787

The Chinese New Year travel rush

According to China Highlights, the travel rush that occurs specifically for Chinese New Year is known as ‘Chunyun’ (春运 spring movement), and typically begins two weeks in advance of Lunar New Year’s Day. This increased travel activity lasts for about 40 days – typically from mid-January to late February.

Family reunions and gatherings, as well as vacations, are the main drivers of this travel activity.

Are any of your upcoming travels specifically tied to the Chinese New Year? Share your plans by leaving a comment!

Sources: Cirium, China Highlights


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