Chinese carriers are chasing the vapour trails of the rest of the airline industry as international travel picks up again with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The number of passengers taking foreign trips with the country’s three main airlines last month was 10% of pre-pandemic levels four years earlier, according to aviation consultancy Cirium, reports the Financial Times.
Despite Beijing abandoning its strict zero-COVID policies at the end of last year, flights in and out of mainland China are limited, airfares remain elevated and Beijing has been reluctant to grant new tourist visas to foreigners. COVID tests for travellers from China to countries around the world are still common and acting as a deterrent to flying.
While North America and Europe are expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels of travel this year, China is facing a longer timescale. “We expect international passenger numbers in China will only return to pre-COVID levels in 2025, with short-haul recovery outpacing long-haul,” said Eric Lin, head of research at UBS China.
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