China’s airline industry shows signs of recovery

Authorities also begin opening nation’s airports to foreign carriers

by Nadeem Xu
China’s airline industry shows signs of recovery
Taking off: China’s airlines saw an improvement in passenger numbers in May. Photo: Xinhua

(ATF) China's airline industry showed signs of recovery in May with declines in key indicators narrowing from a month ago, China's top aviation authority said.

Airlines flew a total of 25.83 million passengers last month, down 52.6% year on year. That was a 15.9 percentage-point improvement on April, Xiong Jie, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), told a press briefing Wednesday.

Air cargo volumes fell 12% to 549,000 tonnes, compared with a 19.5% decrease registered the previous month.

The punctuality rate of Chinese airlines reached 94.8%, Xiong added.

China has been opening-up its air transport industry. The 

CAAC on Tuesday unveiled a plan to trial foreign flights to and from 

the Hainan Free Trade Port in southern China as one more step in the process.

So-called Seventh Freedom of the Air status would allow a carrier to operate flights between two foreign countries without the need to touch down in its home country. The number of Hainan's international routes reached 103 this year 2020, up from five in 2003, according to the CAAC.

Last week, the administration adjusted policies for international passenger flights, allowing more foreign carriers to resume flights to China on a once-a-week basis starting from June 8.

Foreign airlines that have been unable to fly into the country in the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic can choose a qualified Chinese city for entry starting from Monday.

Airlines can file their pre-flight plans for the period to October 24 to the CAAC.