Chinese figures are down for the first time since SARS: CAPA
Thursday, 19 June 2008: Tighter visa restrictions and the Sichuan earthquake are the two main reasons why Chinese air travel demand has dropped for the first time since the SARS outbreak, says CAPA.
Recent figures show that the past month saw Chinese carriers drop in terms of both domestic and international demand.
“For Air China, the country’s largest international carrier, tighter visa restrictions, added to bad weather and the Sichuan earthquake, are hampering growth rates at a time when fuel prices are surging,” says the Centre of Asia Pacific Aviation in a recent report.
“China’s biggest domestic carrier, China Southern Airlines, reports domestic passenger numbers fell 0.1% in May-08 – its first monthly reduction since the SARS outbreak.”
The report also adds that its not only Chinese carriers feeling the pinch, with Finnair recently attributing weak monthly figures to a drop in the Chinese routes and attributing it, again, to tighter restrictions and the earthquake.
China Southern’s 2008 goal of carrying 61.8 million passengers, up 8.8% on last year now seem doubtful, the analysts add.
“However, as the August Olympic Games approach, a build-up in inbound traffic to Beijing can be expected. Otherwise, the Games will have an uncertain impact on travel to, from and within China, perhaps further distorting travel patterns in what is already an unusual year,” adds CAPA.