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Extra Domestic Flights Arranged for Holidays

Source:China Daily Published:2021-09-15 13:21

Passengers step out of a China Southern Airlines aircraft at Dalian International Airport, Liaoning province, on July 15. [Photo by Liu Debin/For China Daily]

China has scheduled extra domestic flights to cater to increased demand during upcoming holidays, the national civil aviation regulator said on Tuesday.

In addition to about 100,000 flights every week, another 4,250 are planned during the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday starting on Sunday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

The administration has also arranged 4,406 additional flights during the weeklong National Day holiday starting on Oct 1.

Because of the scattered COVID-19 outbreaks across China in the past two months, travel has been limited, causing the civil aviation sector to miss out on its peak summer season, said Shang Kejia, deputy director of the administration's transport department.

She added that summer traffic was down 42 percent compared with 2019 and down 16.6 percent compared with last year.

More trips are expected to be made during the two holidays than over the summer, she said, based on data from search results on online travel agencies.

"Part of the desire to travel suppressed in summer will be released during the Mid-Autumn and National Day holidays," Shang said.

The travel peaks are expected to fall on Saturday, ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, and on Sept 30, Oct 6, 7 and 10 for the National Day holiday.

The two holidays, usually close together, are considered the "golden time" for travel. Before the COVID-19 epidemic, many Chinese people combined the holidays to travel overseas.

However, Shang said it won't be a good time for outbound travel this year because of the complicated COVID-19 pandemic situation around the world.

About 200 international flights travel between China and other parts of the world every week now, about 2.2 percent of the number before COVID-19.

She said the administration won't resume or add more international flights during the holidays.

"The current international flights are to guarantee basic connectivity with the world, with the minimum frequency," she said.

The administration has told service providers such as airline companies and airports to strengthen epidemic control during the holidays. Passengers are also reminded to cooperate, such as wearing face masks throughout their journeys and showing health codes to staff members.

Affected by outbreaks in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and other parts of the country, civil aviation traffic saw a large decline last month, said Wu Shijie, deputy director of the administration's safety office.

Some 22.4 million passenger trips were handled, down 51.1 percent year-on-year and just 36.6 percent of the amount handled in 2019.

The administration has implemented strategies to promote the sector's recovery from the pandemic, such as offering more flexibility in time slots to allow airline companies to use vacant international schedules for domestic routes, said Wang Haibo, deputy director of the administration's general department.

Editor:Zhao Hanqing