Chinese Domestic Services Almost Back To Pre-COVID Levels

China Eastern Airlines aircraft
In June, China Eastern Airlines started the industry craze for selling all-you-can-fly passes.
Credit: China Eastern Airlines

Chinese domestic airline activity has virtually recovered to its 2019 levels as airlines have laid on more capacity than is profitable, in an apparent move to promote a revival in tourism and business travel. Although Chinese carriers’ international activity remains very low, it has picked up notably since June, when the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) allowed more flights.


No specific government directive appears to be driving the current level of domestic activity, though in mid-February the government ordered the whole country, including the airlines, back to work—after less than four weeks of strenuous national lockdown to fight the coronavirus epidemic.

The airlines responded. Capacity jumped to about 60% of 2019 levels in early March and held there until late April. Growth resumed, but slumped again in June when Beijing suffered a COVID-19 outbreak. Capacity has climbed since.