Green shoots from COVID-19; China’s domestic seats now down just 8% YOY

Green shoots from COVID-19; China’s domestic seats now down just 8% YOY

Wuhan, China, was the origin of COVID-19 with China the most impacted country globally so far.  Aviation in China has been very badly affected, with total seats filed in the worst week, starting 21 February, just 5.6 million – down 70% year-on-year.  This was a loss of almost 13 million seats in one week. 

But China is now seeing shoots of recovery. For the week commencing 27 April 2020, so just over one month’s time from when this article is written, total seats are down 19%, or 3.3 million, versus the same time last year.  Domestic capacity, in particular, has shown the most recovery thus far, but things could certainly still change. We cannot say when recovery will happen elsewhere, but it will: it always does, no matter the severity or nature of an event.  And China’s uptick does at least provide some positivity at a time when positive thinking is in short supply, especially when the World Travel and Tourism Council says that up to 50 million jobs in the travel and tourism industries are at risk.

Domestic China seats now down just 8% YOY

Generally, China’s domestic seats account for around 78% of its total.  In the past year, China typically had a minimum of 14 million domestic seats each week, according to OAG Schedules Analyser, with 15 million or more in the peak summer. The increase in seats just before the drop was from the Chinese New Year.  While the drop from the virus is clear, what matters is the potential recovery.  In one month’s time, at the end of April, filed seats are down just 8% – or just 1.1 million – YOY.  Of course, this excludes natural growth in this year period, meaning it is not as good as it looks, and things can still change. 

Green shoots from COVID-19; China’s domestic seats now down just 8% YOY

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

While Wuhan is obviously still suffering greatly, with domestic seats down 39%, or 218,000, in the week at the end of April, it is not the same across China. Of the country’s top-10 airports, Chongqing, the eighth-largest, recorded growth of 4.1% in domestic seats versus the same week in 2019. Other major airports had declines notably below the country’s average, such as Chengdu (-3.0%) and Guangzhou (-4.1%). However, things are different internationally, with such seats down 56% to/from China.


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