China Releases Airport Scorecard For 2022

Guangzhou Baiyun

Guangzhou Baiyun was China's busiest airport in 2022.

Credit: Guangdong Airport Authority

SINGAPORE—The fallout of China’s movement control and border restrictions in 2022 were evident as the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) published the annual operating statistics of all the country’s airports. 

Passenger movements across what had been China’s top 10 busiest airports fell between 28% and 61% year-on-year as China tightened its COVID-19-prevention measures earlier in 2022. 

Overall passenger volume was 520 million, down 42.7% from 2021, of which 516.4 million was domestic traffic. International traffic improved 20.7% to 3.7 million. 

Across China, Hebei province saw the smallest decline in passenger movements, sliding 18.8% compared to 2021. That was in sharp contrast to Tianjin, which recorded a 61.4% drop, and Beijing, which recorded a 60.2% drop. 

Despite strong demand for cargo across the globe, China’s domestic cargo carriage declined 24.4% and international cargo carriage fell 11.4%. 

The top 10 busiest airports were, in order from the busiest: Guangzhou (CAN); Chongqing (CKG); Shenzhen (SZX); Kunming (KMG); Hangzhou (HGH); Chengdu Shuangliu (CTU); Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA); Shanghai Pudong (PVG); Xiamen (XMN); and Chengdu Tianfu (TFU), which ranked 10th with triple-digit growth after only opening in June 2021. Normally in the top 10 as one of China’s most-established airports, Beijing Capital (PEK) placed 11th in 2022. 

Passenger traffic looks set to be more normal in 2023. Following China’s broader post-COVID re-opening on Jan. 9, the number of people traveling in February shot up. Month-on-month, overall passenger volumes improved 38% to 43.2 million travelers. The change was more pronounced in international movements, which rocketed more than sevenfold. Cargo remains under pressure, as while domestic carriage went up 4.8% from January to February, international carriage fell 5.2%.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.