Flights to China are expected to fully recover early next month, according to a global travel data company.
Air travel has gradually accelerated since the coronavirus grounded the majority of planes in February.
This month, domestic arrivals at Chinese airports reached 86% of 2019 levels, according to ForwardKeys figures.
His prediction is a beacon of hope for the airline industry which suffers from massive layoffs and losses.
In mid-February, the majority of flights to China were canceled as it took steps to control the spread of the virus.
As cases of the virus declined, more flights have been reinstated and reservations are now back at 98%, with most being for travel from mid to late August.
“This is a very significant moment because it is the first time since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic that a major segment of the aviation market around the world has returned to pre-pandemic levels ”Said Olivier Ponti of ForwardKeys. .
Its forecast that domestic flights will fully recover in early September is based on a number of factors, such as keeping the pandemic under control and the continued use of “aggressive price promotions.”
Many Chinese airlines have launched discounts to attract passengers, with some promotions aimed at university students.
Travel to Sanya, the vacation hotspot in the South China Sea, has seen a strong recovery aided by a new duty-free policy.
“The crucial question is whether significant discounts will still be needed to sustain the recovery,” added Ponti.
“The advantage of China is that it has a huge interior hinterland and a strong domestic tourism market, which can help Chinese carriers mitigate any impact,” added Alfred Chua of FlightGlobal magazine.
However, Chinese trips to Beijing are still 24.8% behind the same period in 2019, held back by the city’s second coronavirus outbreak in early June.
The resumption of domestic air travel in China is a positive development in an otherwise bleak outlook for the aviation industry. But international flights are not expected to fully recover for many years.
The International Air Transport Association, a global industry group, has warned that global passenger numbers will not return to pre-virus levels until 2024, a year later than expected.
The recovery in short-haul travel is still expected to occur faster than for long-haul travel, he said, as travel bubbles develop between countries.
Earlier this week, American Airlines announced it would cut 19,000 jobs in October when a government extended salary support program to airlines during the pandemic ends.
The world’s largest airline has said the cuts will make its workforce 30% smaller than it was in March.
Other carriers have also warned of equally large cuts amid a sharp decline in air travel, which is expected to suffer losses of more than $ 84 billion (£ 66 billion) this year.
“At least for the rest of the year, I think we will see two very distinct patterns: the domestic will recover very quickly, with international networks still very weak,” added Mr. Chua.