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A China Eastern 787 Dreamliner performs a taxi test in Charleston. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mike Cassidy)

China Eastern Airlines Sees a Huge Travel Demand

As coronavirus cases in China remain low, China Eastern Airlines is seeing a huge domestic travel demand surge during the Labor Day Holidays. Flight movements on May 1 exceed pre-pandemic levels. According to theCivil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the airline’s flight movement is expected to reached 2,700 daily, as compared to May 1 2019, when there were 2,650 flight movement. Labor Day Holidays started on May 1 and last for five days in China.

After experiencing an unsuccessful Lunar New Year Holiday, the airline has been experiencing a surge in domestic travel demand since March. The airline’s flight movements in March and April far exceeded February’s.

China Eastern says the Shanghai – Beijing, Guangzhou – Shanghai and Shenzhen – Shanghai routes were the most popular routes over the Labor Day Holidays. The airline and its affiliates, such as Shanghai Airlines and China United Airlines, have planned to operate over 16,000 flights during the holidays. CAAC said that China United Airlines has sold over 200,000 air tickets, overtaking its figure for the same time in 2019.

The aviation industry in China has experienced a huge domestic demand after the pandemic. However, the majority of international travel remains closed. Chinese Eastern Airlines and other Chinese carriers have been facing the difficult situation.

China Eastern recorded a loss of RMB 3.8 billion ($587 million) in the first quarter of 2021, as compared to same time last year, when it posted a loss of RMB 3.93 billion. The airline said that the country is “on the recovery of air travel demand” but “warned the operating results of the company in the first half of 2021 may still be adversely affected by Covid-19.” The airline has carried 17 million passengers thus far this year.

Meanwhile, China Southern Airlines has also posted a loss of RMB 4 billion ($617 million), down from RMB 5.62 billion in the corresponding period last year. Air China has suffered a deepened loss of RMB 6.2 billion ($957 million) from RMB 4.8 billion same time last year, as the income was 16% less than 2020, the onset of the pandemic.

Airports in the country have benefited from the long weekend. Beijing has seen a record high of flight movement; Capital Airport and Daxing Airport had a combined total of 1979 flight movements on Apr. 30. The flight movement has been kept on an upward trend since the summer schedule started on Mar. 28. Zhuhai Airport has also shown a 139% increased, compared to same time last year. Jinan Airport, an eastern city in the country, has seen a new record as well, exceeding 61,000 passenger capacity on Apr 30.

Meanwhile, Hainan Airlines has recorded its daily income was over RMB 100 million ($15.4 million) for three days in a row since Apr. 29.

Will Lee
Will Lee
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