Mainland China domestic flights should push past pre-COVID levels during Golden Week holiday

Scheduled domestic flights during Golden Week 2020 are up by more than 11% compared with 2019; Golden Week peak suggests that Mainland China's domestic air travel industry is on course for recovery and marginally positive year-on-year growth

Beijing Daxing International Airport. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneAlthough most air travel markets have been hit hard by COVID-19, the volume of domestic flights in Mainland China during this year’s annual “Golden Week” holiday, from 1-8 October looks set to push well past last year’s record, according to the global travel data and analytics expert Cirium.

Often called “the world’s largest annual human migration,” the peak travel period for this year’s Golden Week will be between 30 September and 11 October. A snapshot of Cirium Core data taken on 23 September shows more than 164,700 domestic flights scheduled during the period. This represents an increase of more than 11 percent compared with the same time in 2019 when approximately 148,000 flights flew.

This year passengers will fill more than 27.8 million domestic aircraft seats during Golden Week, with the busiest day being 7 October when over 13,800 domestic flights are scheduled to take to the air. That is an increase of 9.6 percent over the busiest day in 2019 (6 October) when more than 12,600 domestic flights carried holidaymakers to destinations across the country.

“COVID-19 has clearly had a major impact on Mainland China’s international and domestic flight schedules. Between 1 January and 23 September 2020, 18 percent of scheduled international flights and 17 percent of scheduled domestic flights were not flown. However, when it comes to year-on-year growth, the story is completely different, with international registering a 77 percent drop, while domestic suffered a more modest 16 percent decline,” said Rahul Oberai, Cirium managing director for APAC. “Some regions are showing signs of recovery as travel restrictions begin to ease. However, those with large domestic markets, such as China are the ones most likely to see capacity bounce back or even achieve some level of positive growth,” he added.

This year the most popular Golden Week destination for domestic air travellers is Shanghai. Its two airports – Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) and Shanghai Hongqiao International (SHA) will welcome more than 10,800 flights between 30 September and 11 October and over 900 on 7 October alone. Beijing is a close runner up. It will see some 9,840 flights fly in between 30 September and 11 October and close to 830 arriving at its Beijing Capital International (PEK) and Beijing Daxing International (PKX) airports on the busiest day of the annual break (7 October).

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