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China's Strong Domestic Air Travel Has Stalled Over The Lunar New Year

InsightIQ data revealed China has experienced a drop in domestic air travel in the fifteen-day period prior to the Lunar New Year compared to the same period in 2020. Following the resurgence of new Covid-19 cases in early January, new travel restrictions and subsequent lower demand for domestic travel have meant deep capacity cuts from local airlines.

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The flight data extracted from IBA's InsightIQ Flights illustrates that Chinese carriers operated 41% fewer domestic flights, representing circa 66,500 fewer flights over the fifteen-day period prior to the annual festival compared to 2020 flight numbers.


chart showing number of flights during Chinese new year season 2021

Source: InsightIQ Flights, dated February 16th, illustrating domestic flights for 14 days before and after the Lunar New Year. (Chinese New Year fell on February 12th)



The Lunar New Year season has been long awaited by airlines, this period is reported to be one of the world's biggest annual human migrations and the busiest period for Chinese airlines. The number of Covid-19 cases was reportedly down to almost zero in China at the end of 2020 and domestic traffic figures were showing good signs of improvement, reaching nearly 2019 domestic traffic levels.


In recent weeks, the Chinese government encouraged people not to travel and stated that the expected number of trips would be down by 60% compared to the 2019 Lunar New Year holiday season. It is too early to confirm the full impact, but IBA's anticipates this will likely result in further capacity cuts from airlines over the fifteen-day period after the Lunar New Year.


Data from InsightIQ does reveal Chinese airlines are showing an improvement in terms of their active fleet during the Lunar New Year season in 2021 when compared to 2020. InsightIQ Fleet data illustrates the current number of parked and stored aircraft has decreased by 58% compared to the figure recorded in the same period as of February 2020. We will be monitoring how this number changes in the coming days.


If you have any further questions or comments please contact Finlay Grogan


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