GUANGZHOU — China’s domestic airline industry is showing signs of recovery as the passenger count of the country’s largest carrier rose for the second straight month from a year ago, fueled by pent-up demand for domestic travel during weekends and holidays.
China Southern Airlines reported 11.79 million passengers in October, a 3% increase from October 2019. But international flights still face a 95% plunge with no sign of a rebound.
Air China also said it recorded a second-straight monthly increase in domestic flights, up 4% in October from a year ago. China Eastern Airlines, meanwhile, posted a 3% decline the same month after a rise of 1% in September.
The so-called big three of China’s state-owned carriers show clear signs of recovery in the domestic sector, in contrast to their international flights, which show a monthly decrease of more than 90%.
Some airlines are running discount campaigns that offer unlimited flights for specified periods to boost demand in the wake of the coronavirus. Over 600 million people enjoyed domestic travels during the Golden Week holidays at the beginning of October.
Combined sales of the three airlines from January to September only notched 156 billion yuan — a 50% year-on-year decrease. Total net loss amounted to 26 billion yuan, a deep dive from a net profit of 15 billion yuan posted during the same period last year.