After a tepid start to the year, China’s three largest carriers made significant gains in domestic traffic, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels in some instances.
In traffic results released for March, the ‘Big Three’ — comprising Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines — hailed the “steady recovery” of passenger traffic, particularly in their domestic networks.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) disclosed in March that Chinese carriers are expected to recover around 90% of pre-pandemic traffic this year, underscoring the recovery China is experiencing after claiming to have controlled the coronavirus outbreak.
Compared to March 2020, when China was in the middle of battling the pandemic, the ‘Big Three’ have seen domestic passenger numbers nearly triple, with capacity and traffic recording similar increases.
Air China in March carried 7.5 million domestic passengers, more than double the number flown in 2020. When compared to 2019, it represented a slight dip of just 0.3%.
Traffic for the month also doubled year on year, and was about 0.6% higher than 2019 levels. Capacity saw a two-fold increase compared to 2020, and was 12% higher than 2019.
The Star Alliance carrier also saw similar growth in its traffic results compared to February, when travel restrictions were still in force.
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