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China

China’s Peak Lunar New Year Air Travel Season Approaches

As part of limiting the spread of COVID-19, China has discouraged travel is usually the busiest time. However, either way, those who are going must present a nucleic acid test with negative results. They should get the test seven days before returning home.

Many Chinese have decided against booking a flight for the mid-February holiday. 

Consequently, airline bookings made as of Jan. 19 for Lunar New Year travel have plunged 73.7% compared with 2019’s. This was according to data from travel analytics firm ForwardKeys. The firm did not provide 2020 data, saying the early days of the COVID outbreak distorted the numbers.

As of Jan. 1, bookings had been down 57.3% from 2019. The situation is deteriorating due to outbreaks leading to tighter restrictions.

For 11 consecutive days and nationwide case numbers, Beijing has reported new COVID-19 cases. 

Many employees of state-owned companies or government agencies have been told not to travel without management approval. 

Some people already bought air tickets but are considering cancelling.

Passengers with tickets for flights scheduled from Jan. 28, 2021, to Mar. 8, 2021, are entitled to full refunds. China looks to reduce population flows over Lunar New Year. This was a statement from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Tuesday.

A 6-Million Trip Reduction

Variflight, an aviation data provider, predicts a reduction of 6 million trips over Lunar New Year. This is a result of the COVID test requirement and home quarantine rules. About 50% of travellers are likely to cancel.

During Lunar New Year, ticket prices are generally at their peak. However, now, they have plunged. 

Plane tickets sold on Qunar.com, a Beijing-based online travel platform, averaged 651.36 yuan ($100) during the holiday. As of Jan. 25, its lowest level in five years, the company said on Monday.

Domestic airline capacity in China had recovered to 2019 levels by the end of last year. That was when there were almost no cases, though ticket prices remained low.

BOCOM International Transportation analyst, Luya You, said there would be a delay in the full recovery of Chinese airline revenue to pre-crisis levels. It will set back to the second or third quarter this year, compared with the earlier assessment of January or February.

Travel analytics firm ForwardKeys said travellers had been booking tickets later than usual. About 61% of Chinese are booking late within four days of departure. That was from March to December 2020, up from 52% in 2019.

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