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China International Air Traffic Builds on Back of Visa Tweaks - BLOOMBERG

MAY 17, 2024

(Bloomberg) -- China’s international air passenger traffic recovered to over 80% of pre-Covid levels in April, reflecting efforts by Beijing to attract more overseas visitors to the nation’s shores and a growing propensity of Chinese to travel abroad after the pandemic.

About 5.1 million international air passenger trips were made in April, Li Yong, a senior official with Civil Aviation Administration of China, said at a briefing in Beijing on Friday. It’s the third month that international air passenger traffic held at more than 80% of the pre-pandemic levels, according to Li.

The total number of air passenger trips, including domestic and international routes, reached 56 million, representing a year-over-year growth of 10.6% and an increase of 5.3% from 2019, before Covid, according to CAAC.

Read more: Chinese Tourism Surge Brings Relief to Global Travel Industry

China has introduced a slew of policy measures since late last year to try and attract more international visitors. Earlier this month Beijing said it would allow visa-free entry for foreign tour groups that come to the country via cruise ships and visa-free entry is now available for travelers from some European and Asian countries.

Travel sentiment is also finally picking up within China, according to a survey from Bloomberg Intelligence, as a willingness to spend boosts the number of domestic and outbound trips that people are taking. Most major international destinations are seeing gains, including in Southeast Asia, and interest in Europe is building, analyst Tim Bacchus said.

The trends are reflected in the April monthly data of China’s top three airlines.

China Southern Airlines Co., the country’s largest carrier by planes and passengers, said in an exchange filing late Thursday that its passenger traffic grew 19.8% from a year ago last month. International routes saw a 143.8% year-on-year growth in traffic.

For China Eastern Airlines Corp. and Air China Ltd., the year-on-year growth of international passenger traffic in April was 338.56% and 228.9% respectively. 


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