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China's aviation sector ascends with summer-autumn flight season launch


Airplanes parked at the Beijing Capital International Airport, March 25, 2024. /CFP
Airplanes parked at the Beijing Capital International Airport, March 25, 2024. /CFP

Airplanes parked at the Beijing Capital International Airport, March 25, 2024. /CFP

The volume of domestic and international flights in China continues to exhibit sustained growth as the summer-autumn flight season commences on Sunday. 

For this new season, 188 domestic and international airlines are scheduled to operate 122,000 passenger and cargo flights per week, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). 

A total of 51 domestic airlines are set to schedule 101,536 domestic flights per week for the summer-autumn flight season, marking a 2.5 percent increase compared to the 2023 summer-autumn season and a 38.29 percent increase compared to the 2019 summer-autumn season. 

The Civil Aviation Administration has approved 17,257 passenger and cargo flights on a weekly basis for 164 domestic and international airlines. These flights will connect to 70 destination countries, including 37 in Asia, 21 in Europe, 5 in Africa, 2 in North America, 2 in Latin America and 3 in Oceania, linking 178 foreign cities with 63 domestic cities. This includes connections to 51 Belt and Road partner countries, according to CAAC.

CAAC Strategies: Domestic focus and global flights

For the domestic aviation market, the CAAC has outlined several key measures. 

These include encouraging airlines to scientifically assess market trends, promoting comprehensive supervision of route and flight operations to solidify precise control measures for passenger load factors, and assisting airlines in optimizing their route networks. 

Efforts are also underway to enhance services, facilitate the development of through-flight services, streamline transfers, and integrate airlines comprehensively into the aviation transportation network system. 

The summer-autumn flight season of 2024 has shown continued growth trends in international passenger flights, with flights to Ireland resuming and one new domestic airline and two foreign airlines operating international passenger flights, according to the CAAC. 

There has been significant recovery in the passenger market in neighboring countries, with notable increases in flights to Vietnam, Japan, Laos and Russia. As announced by CAAC in February, passenger flights between China and the United States are set to increase significantly from Sunday, with Chinese and U.S. airlines permitted to operate 100 scheduled weekly passenger flights. 

The favorable effects of visa-free policies are gradually becoming apparent, as evidenced by significant growth in flight volumes to Hungary, Austria, Spain, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. 

In the first two months of 2024, China recorded 2.95 million inbound and outbound trips made by foreigners, marking a notable increase of 2.3 times compared to the previous period and a recovery reaching 41.5 percent of the level prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Shi Zeyi, an official with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, at a press conference. 

The Civil Aviation Administration will also assist airlines in increasing capacity and opening new routes between China and countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, to support national strategies and meet passenger travel demands.

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