Chinese domestic air travel booming once more; international demand recovering

Image: Wuhan Tianhe International Airport 10 million throughput threshold celebrated
Nov 20: Wuhan Tianhe International Airport’s group managing director, Han Zhiliang (left) leads the dignitaries celebrating the airport’s passing of the 10 million throughput threshold. Photo: Daniel Chan.

Demand for air travel within China continues to grow impressively. Latest figures for September and October show domestic demand growing by between 15% and 20% in both months, while international traffic is also recovering, up 14% in September and 7% in October. A comparison with 2007 data for October is more revealing. While domestic traffic is up 33% versus two years ago, international traffic is still down 10%.

Image: Air China Welcome
August: Jubilant travellers celebrate the opening of Kunming (Yunnan) to Linzhi (Tibet) services, shortening a day of bus travel to just two hours and contributing to the 15-20% growth in domestic services this year.
Chart: Chinese airlines development - Year-on-year change in monthly passengers: 1/07 to 10/09
Source: CAAC

Some 21.7 million passengers travelled on Chinese airlines in October, the second highest monthly figure ever recorded, beaten only by August of this year.

Chart: Passengers on Chinese airlines - Monthly passengers (millions)
Source: CAAC

October’s load factor of 79.7% is the best ever for October and since January 2007 has only been beaten twice; in August 2007 and August 2009

Chart: Chinese airlines’ monthly load factor
Source: CAAC

Earlier this week, it was announced that the China Securities Regulatory Commission had conditionally approved the merger between China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. They may be further consolidation in the Chinese market as Air China is believed to be looking at taking over Shenzhen Airlines.

Image: jetStar annie winner
Chong Phit Lian, CEO of Jetstar Asia, won one of our “annies” for enterprise for announcing the Singapore-Haikou service at Routes in Beijing. The route starts December 16. China’s international traffic was up another 7% in October – that’s still down 10% on 2007, although domestic traffic has surged 33% in the same period.

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