China expects to see air traffic rise to 75% of pre-pandemic levels

Air China Boeing 737-800
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) expects to see a notable rise in air traffic during 2023, reaching around 75% of pre-pandemic levels. This follows the Chinese government’s decision to reopen its borders to the world and significantly relax air travel restrictions,

According to the state-controlled China Central Television report released on January 6, 2023, the country is currently focused on riding the post-pandemic wave of aviation recovery, despite the country’s 2022 figures for air traffic standing at only 38% of pre-pandemic levels. With China’s borders due to fully reopen for international visitors during 2023, the CAAC expects to see air traffic volumes double.

The country, which has been moving away from its strict zero-COVID policies over the course of the past few months, will drop its quarantine policies on January 8, 2023, just shortly before the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

As a result, international travelers will no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival to China, though they will still be required to provide a negative PCR test 48 hours before departure. Changes will also affect the local aviation market. Domestic passengers will no longer need to take a temperature check in order to enter an airport.

Meanwhile, major local air carriers, such as Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern, are already prepared for borders reopening. According to Cirium data seen by Reuters, Chinese airlines have returned at least 400 of a total of 500 wide-body aircraft from long-term storage.

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