Airports in Hubei Resume Domestic Flights, Shenzhen Airlines the First to Operate
On March 27th, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a notice on resuming domestic flights for Hubei province, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. According to the notice, all domestic passengers services to/from airports in Hubei will resume as of March 29th, except for those connecting Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, which will be allowed to resume starting April 8th, 2020.
China’s Domestic Aviation Industry Showing Upward Trend
IATA chief economist Brian Pearce sees that a “turning point” could be in sight for airlines in the world’s second biggest economy. From January 23, when the city of Wuhan was locked down by authorities, China’s aviation industry has been dealing with the biggest collapse in its history. The civil aviation market dropped by around 80% between January 23 and the middle of March, according to IATA figures. Nearly 500,000 domestic and international flights to and from China were cancelled. But we are now seeing the first tentative green shoots of a recovery. It’s early, it’s fragile and it’s certainly not guaranteed but domestic passenger numbers in China have been showing signs of a potential turnaround. Load factors which hit a low of 40% on sharply reduced operations during the lockdown of key areas of China in February, have now climbed to 60% and more flights are taking to the skies. “China is now returning to work and relaxing domestic travel restrictions. We’ve seen a slow resumption of domestic air services. Load factors of 60% show that passenger confidence is returning too, albeit slowly,” said Pearce.
China Puts Major Restrictions on Inbound Air Travel
China was compelled to temporarily suspend entry into the country of foreign passport holders with valid visas or residence permits in order to deal with the spread of COVID-19. “We also took into account the practices of many other countries,” Geng said at a regular news conference in Beijing. He said China will stay in close touch with all parties and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world. The suspension, announced on last week, will will also apply to the entry of foreign nationals holding Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business travel cards.
Foreign Airlines Limited to One Flight per Week Starting Sunday
Every foreign airline will be required to maintain only one air route to China and operate no more than one flight a week the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a circular issued last week, in the latest move to cut international passenger flights and curb imported novel coronavirus infections. Domestic airlines also are asked to retain only one air route with each foreign country and operate no more than one flight a week starting Sunday, according to the circular. The retained flights should be based on the international flight plan between 16-22 March released by the administration. Airlines should submit their flight plans to the administration for approval in advance, the circular said.
Govt Launches Key Steps to Stabilize Air Freight Capacity
To increase the air freight capacity, the administration has set aside slots in rush hours at several large airports for use by all freighters, opened a “green channel” for the approval of cargo flight plans, and encouraged domestic and foreign airlines to carry out overtime chartered flights for cargo, said Zhang Qing with the administration’s development and planning department, at a news conference in Beijing. Domestic airlines are encouraged to use idle passenger jets to carry out cargo flights and take the initiative to contact foreign trade enterprises and understand their demands for transportation, so that they could arrange chartered flights to cope with possible surges in transportation demands. The administration will continue to reduce the cost of aviation logistics. In addition to last year’s measures such as cutting the parking fee for cargo-only aircraft and the ground service fee for cargo and mails, the administration has introduced another 16 steps in five areas this year, including waiving the civil aviation development fund and reducing air traffic control fees.
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