Flight bookings have surged in the wake of China's reopening, according to ForwardKeys' latest data.
On 3 January, domestic flight bookings during the upcoming Chinese
New Year period (7 Jan - 15 Feb) were recorded at 71% behind 2019 and 8%
behind 2022, with the most popular destinations being Beijing,
Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming, Sanya, Shenzhen, Haikou, Guangzhou and
China planned to ramp up its airline capacity to 70% of pre-pandemic
levels by 6 January, and to increase it again to 88% by 31 January.
it will take some time for the country to fully restore its flight
capacity with the current shortage of trained manpower.
Between 26 December and 3 January, outbound flight bookings soared
192% compared to the same period in 2022, but they still remain 85%
behind pre-pandemic levels.
ForwardKey's data also revealed that the most popular destinations
for Chinese travellers currently are: Macau, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul,
Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt.
Abu Dhabi, which serves as an international air hub between China and
the West clocked in at 51% behind 2019. From Abu Dhabi, 11% of the
travellers will go to Paris, 9% to Barcelona, 5% to London, 3% to Munich
and 3% to Manchester.
Some 67% of bookings made between 26 December and 3 January were for
travel during the Chinese New Year period, which is described by Olivier
Ponti, VP insights of ForwardKeys, as the period where international
travel rebounds for the first time in three years.
Despite these findings though, Ponti warns that "we will need to wait
longer before we see a resurgence in Chinese tourists exploring the
globe" for two reasons:
1. Lack of international flight capacity which only stands at 10% of 2019 levels
2. Increasing air fares that cost approximately 160% higher than pre-pandemic prices
3. Multiple countries that have rolled out Covid-19 restrictions and testing requirements specifically for travellers from China
now, we expect the Chinese outbound market will pick up strongly in Q2
2023, when airlines schedule capacity for the spring and summer, which
include the May holiday, Dragon Boat festival in June and summer
holidays," Ponti concludes.