Slowed Chinese Passenger Growth In 2019

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Growth in mainland Chinese airline passenger numbers slowed in 2019, when the industry carried 660 million people, up 7.9% on a year earlier, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

In 2018 the growth rate was 10.9%.

The industry’s revenue was CNY1.06 trillion ($153 billion), the agency said in a regular annual review of sector performance. Since this was a rise of 5.4% from 2018, less than the rate of passenger growth, the figures imply a fall in the average fare. The CAAC did not disclose traffic measured in revenue passenger-kilometers (RPKs), so yields cannot be calculated.

Nonetheless, the implied fall in the average fare is at odds with what should have been unexpected tightness in capacity, caused by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. When the 737 MAX was grounded, industry officials in mainland China did not expect a severe impact, because, they said, airlines there had too much capacity.

The grounding was a factor in a dramatic fall in the pace at which aircraft were introduced into fleets, the CAAC said. Chinese mainland carriers brought 254 aircraft into service in 2019, down 41% on 2018. It did not disclose how many 737 MAX aircraft had been due for delivery in 2019.

At the end of 2019, mainland China had 62 airlines, the CAAC said. The carriers operated 5,155 routes, up by 162 from a year earlier, and their fleets totaled 3,818 aircraft.

Of the top 10 global operators for commercial jets, three are them are from China.



This is an abbreviated version of an article by Bradley Perrett that appeared in Aviation Daily. Login or subscribe to access the full article here.