Three major Chinese airlines to fly more overseas routes as new season starts
Three major Chinese air carriers are expected to fly more than 140 overseas routes as the winter/spring season started on Sunday, data from the carriers showed, which is a solid growth from the previous flying season.
Although flight activity is still far behind pre-pandemic levels, experts said that it manifested the regulator's efforts to gradually restore confidence in civil aviation.
Air China said on Friday that it will operate 52 overseas routes with 132 flights per week, and it plans to add international routes including Beijing to Johannesburg, Chongqing to Budapest and Chongqing to Ho Chi Minh City. The number includes resumed routes such as Beijing to Singapore and Hangzhou to Rome.
China Southern Airlines said it will have 47 overseas routes covering 203 cities in the new flying season, including resumed routes of Guangzhou to New York, Rome and Jakarta. China Eastern said that it will operate 42 international routes including Shanghai to Toronto, New York, Paris, Frankfurt, Auckland and Sydney.
Compared with the summer/autumn flight season that ran from March 27 to October 29, the number of overseas routes in the new flight season has increased significantly. Air China said it would fly 21 overseas routes. China Southern said it would fly 25 international routes in the summer and autumn season.
"The civil aviation regulator is working hard to restore international routes, and it is an important way for China to connect with the world," Zheng Hongfeng, CEO of industry information provider VariFlight, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The rising flight activity is in line with official data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which said that inbound and outbound flights are likely to reach 420 for international travelers per week in the new season, a year-on-year increase of 105.9 percent.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport said on Sunday that total flights are almost the same as the previous season, but the airport will see more frequent international services in the coming weeks.
However, the overseas services are still far below those in 2019. Data from VariFlight on Sunday showed that the number of international flights in late October had only returned to 7 percent of the 2019 flights.
In May, the State Council said in a meeting that China will increase domestic and international passenger flights in an orderly manner and work out measures to facilitate personnel exchanges related to foreign companies, and Chinese airlines announced plans to restart international routes in June.
In July, the CAAC said China will enhance communication with other countries to increase international flights during the second half of this year, as the regulator relaxed inbound flight restrictions.
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