Travel analytics company ForwardKeys has revealed that China’s domestic air travel has been recovering slowly in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. As Beijing recently lifted its 14-day quarantine requirement on travel between the capital and low-risk areas in China, ForwardKeys now expects a significant uplift.
Chinese domestic air travel bottomed in mid-February, from which point it has been in muted recovery mode. In the week of 23-29 February, coinciding with a modest restarting of the economy and an increase in domestic air capacity, it jumped by 62.9% over the prior week. It has since grown from a still very low base, by 19.5%, between the first week of March and the third week of April.
The destinations leading the tentative recovery are commercial centers, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Sichuan and Yunnan. Travel to Beijing has been extremely weak because the strictest travel restrictions have been in force in the capital city until today.
Travel to Shenzhen, one of the China’s first Special Economic Zones, and to Hainan island, China’s tropical holiday hotspot in the South China Sea, is likely to be indicative of the recovery trend as it develops. In both cases, flight arrivals picked up in the third week of February, although the base was much lower for Hainan, as a leisure destination, than Shenzhen, which is a commercial center.
Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “We can confirm tiny green shoots of recovery in China’s domestic aviation market. So, if you are a hotelier with properties and clientele in the right parts of the People’s Republic, you can look forward to welcoming guests again. So, if you are a luxury goods retailer, seeking to sell to the Chinese market, the reality is that the only places to do so will be in China.”