Sharp jump in China flight searches suggests virus fear ebbing
03/04/2020|7:10:35 PM|Bloomberg

Travel agency Tongcheng-Elong Holdings said there’s a growing belief that the coronavirus outbreak is being better contained in China because the number of searches for flights on its online platform is soaring.

Searches for bookings during the April 4-6 Tomb Sweeping Holiday, or Qing Ming Festival, jumped 138% on Feb. 23 from a week earlier, while those for flights in the Labor Day break from May 1 to 5 increased 84%, the Hong Kong-listed company said in a statement Friday.

The figures support a growing flicker of optimism about the deadly outbreak, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and led to thousands of flight cancellations and citywide lock-downs. The virus has pummeled the aviation and travel industries, among many others, and threatens economic growth right at the start of a new decade. But there are signs it is easing.

Scheduled airline capacity within China rose by 1.3 million seats from the previous week, or more than 25%, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide. The flight-data provider previously noted that the reduction in flights by Chinese airlines since late January was so drastic that the country’s aviation market shrank to smaller than Portugal’s.

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