China’s ‘Big Three’ see full domestic traffic recovery in September

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China’s three biggest carriers recorded year-on-year domestic passenger traffic growth for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began.

China’s ‘Big Three’ see full domestic traffic recovery in September

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Releasing their traffic results for September, the ‘Big Three’ — comprising Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines — each carried more passengers compared to the same month last year. Domestic ASKs and RPKs also saw year-on-year increases.

Still, the carriers note that while domestic air traffic has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, international air travel demand still remained depressed, due largely to travel restrictions.

The ‘Big Three’ also warned that their financial performance for the quarter ended 30 September — due to be released soon — will be “materially and adversely affected”, contradicting analyst indications that a full domestic recovery could push Chinese carriers back into profitability.

For the month, Air China carried 7.78 million domestic passengers, a 1.3% increase year on year. It also represented a 7% rise from August’s passenger numbers.

Overall, the Star Alliance carrier carried 7.82 million passengers across its network for the month, 6.9% higher than August’s figures, but a year-on-year decline of 16.6%.

Domestic ASKs for the month rose 5.6% year on year, and increased 4.6% compared to August. RPKs, meanwhile, inched up 0.1% compared to the same period last year. It also grew 9.2% month on month.

As for China Southern, it carried 11.1 million passengers domestically — a modest 2.5% increase year on year, and an uptick of about 8% compared to August. Across its network, the Guangzhou-based carrier flew 11.2 million passengers — nearly 12% lower year on year.

Domestic ASKs saw a 6.6% year-on-year increase and a 6.3% increase compared to August. Domestic RPKs grew 1.6% compared to 2019. Month on month, it increased nearly 13%.

China Eastern carried 8.9 million domestic passengers in September, a 1.2% increase year on year and a 5.1% increase month on month. It carried nearly 9 million passengers across its network for the month, a 14% year-on-year decline.

The SkyTeam carrier also reported the highest year-on-year increase in domestic ASKs among the ‘Big Three’ — at 8.5%. Month on month, domestic ASKs grew 2.5%. 

RPKs for the month saw a 3.6% increase compared to 2019, while it also grew about 7.6% month on month.

September’s traffic results caps off months of steady improvement in domestic traffic in China, after authorities announced that the coronavirus outbreak — which originated in the country — had been brought under control.

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Chinese airlines also carried more than 13 million passengers across the recent Golden Week holidays in early October, with the number of flights mounted during the period close to pre-pandemic numbers.

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Source : Reuters | Photocredit : Google

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