Based on the number of issued air tickets, China domestic air travel has reached more than 50% of what it was at the same time last year. This is according to data collected and analyzed by travel analytics company, ForwardKeys.
In addition, analysis of flight ticketing data reveals a significant uptick in last-minute domestic flight bookings in China between May 11 and 21. During that period, the lead time between ticketing and travel shortened dramatically; 72% of flight tickets were issued within 4 days of the travel date, compared with 51% at the equivalent point in 2019. This phenomenon is likely to be significantly influenced by students returning to university, as the timing coincides with universities reopening – a milestone that is expected to stimulate Chinese consumers to travel more.
In the last week of that month, the recovery began, and passenger traffic jumped 62.9% (all be it from a very low base), coinciding with a weak restart of the economy and an increase in seat capacity. Throughout March and April, air travel continued to pick up slowly until it received a fillip from the Labor Day holiday at the start of May.
The China domestic air travel revival will certainly be welcomed trending news by everyone in the tourism industry, but it needs to be kept in perspective, because at the moment the business is mostly local, and, typically, the shorter the distance people travel, the less they tend to spend.
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