According to the aviation regulator on Thursday, China’s air passenger numbers dropped 45.16% year-on-year over Lunar New Year. This was despite signs of a quick recovery emerging due to China’s success in curbing domestic transmission of the coronavirus.
Over the 7-day holiday period, passenger numbers were at 3.57 million, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said on its website. The average load factor, a measure of seats filled, was at 57.51%.
Signs of a pick-up are emerging
International cargo flights during the 7 days surged 212.48% year-on-year, CAAC data showed.
During the week of February 8, domestic seat capacity plunged to the lowest level since February 2019. Based on the brokerage, Jefferies, domestic seat capacity should increase 65.5% this week, compared with the previous week.
There has only been only one local infection case in China since February 7. That said, they expect more relaxed travel restrictions.
That is with the pent-up demand leading to higher load factors before higher ticket prices, the final stage of the recovery. This was according to Andrew Lee, the equity analyst at Jefferies.
Chinese people refrained from traveling over the holiday. However, they kept spending.
On the holiday resort island of Hainan, nine duty-free stores’ sales exceeded 1.5 billion yuan ($232.27 million). That was during the 7-day holiday, doubling that of last year’s new year holiday before the pandemic erupted. This was according to the local government on Thursday.
During the seven days, 660 million parcels were delivered in China. That was up 260% compared with the Lunar New Year period last year, during the pandemic’s first wave.
Receiving a strong boost during the holiday period were online spending, express deliveries, box office revenues, and local tours. That’s due to the large number of people who shelved travel plans and switched to other forms of celebrating. This was according to ANZ in a note on Thursday.
Thanks to low base effects, said Betty Wang, the senior China economist at ANZ. China’s retail sales for January-February this year will likely report double-digit growth, she said.
A key question, Wang added, is whether the job market will continue to recover and support the momentum in consumption.
Britain Needs a Bigger State to Recover
Elsewhere, the British state must take a bigger role in supporting businesses and the public. In a way like it did in the aftermath of World War Two. This will be set out on Thursday in a speech by opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.
He took over as leader of the main opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party in 2020. Starmer will sketch out his alternative vision for the country’s post-Brexit and post-COVID future.