Chinese aviation authorities had yesterday announced the opening of a ‘green channel’ to allow special charter flights to land in the country. The move will facilitate the recovery of international travel in and out of China. As per the decision, Chinese, as well as non-Chinese carriers, can apply for a special flight from the specified countries. Until now, Singapore, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland have been granted this permission.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has added that to improve flexibility in flight planning, it will shorten the processing time for all applications to around three to seven days. The announcement is a clear depiction of China’s control over the spread of coronavirus and its efforts towards the revival of the industry.
Road to recovery
China was the first country to experience the spread of coronavirus. Around mid-January, the country witnessed a weak air travel demand and a sharp fall in capacity. Most of the international carriers canceled their Chinese flights, and the country’s tourism sector took a hit. In the two weeks starting January 20, international capacity in and out of China fell by 1.4 million seats.
However, since the early-March, the country has been a key driving factor in the recovery of the global airline industry. Domestic flights have increased exponentially, and travel within the country is reaching the pre-corona level.
Unfortunately, to curb another wave of disease, CAAC had decided to close borders to all international passengers starting March 28. It also slashed the number of flights, allowing each airline to fly one route into China once a week.
By the start of May, CAAC started revising its decisions to allow international flights from specific countries. Although tourism demand will take a long time to recover, business travel to and from the country is essential to economic recovery.
The maximum number of international flights since the boundary closure has been capped at 134 a week. However, starting June 1, the number will be increased to 407 a week. Many carriers like Singapore Airlines will now be able to fly multiple frequencies to multiple destinations in China.
South Korea was the first country to establish this “green channel” with China earlier this month. Certain South Korean business travelers were allowed to enter ten regions, including Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing, after undergoing minimal health screening and quarantine. In the next phase of the green channel, the aforementioned countries will be granted similar access.
The revival of the airline industry in China has been considerable but to a certain limit. Although the airlines have been quick at adding capacity, the passenger demand is insufficient. For example, in April, capacity in China was almost 50% less as compared to the last year. On the other hand, the number of passengers was 70% less. This meant that flights were emptier than before.
Many International carriers, including Finnair and Delta, have expressed interest in resuming flights to the country. Since China is a hub of the global manufacturing and trade industry, business demand is likely. However, will it be sufficient to sustain regular services? Only time will tell.
Do you think there is a good international demand for China? Let us know in the comments.