China Southern Sees Continued Rebound In Domestic Travel

As China-based airlines try and figure out how to best operate while the country tackles the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, passenger activity has been a shadow of what it this time last year. China Southern has a significant drop in year-on-year results for April. However, on the positive side, there is growth since March.

China Southern Airbus Aircraft
China Southern was one of the airlines to have its operations be affected by the virus outbreak early on. Photo: Airbus

What a difference a year can make

According to operating data shared by the Guangzhou-headquartered carrier, passenger capacity, measured by available seat kilometres (ASK) decreased by 64.86% on a year-on-year. Altogether, capacity on domestic, regional and international routes reduced by 50.55%, 96.39% and 94.34% respectively.

Moreover, passenger traffic, measured by revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), decreased by 73.18%. Traffic on domestic, regional and international routes decreased by 61.52%, 99.73% and 97.08% respectively.

China Southern A380
Despite the downturn in passenger activity, China Southern was still flying the Airbus A380 in March and April. Photo: Getty Images

Better than the previous month

Figures are considerably lower than this time last year. However, there is an improvement in passenger numbers compared to the month before. Altogether, the airline served 3.8 million passengers in April, which is a 6.13% increase month-on-month. The load factor was 58.16% in March but there was a small increase for last month.

“The passenger load factor was 63.35%, representing a decrease of 19.64 percentage points as compared to the same period last year,” China Southern said about April’s results in its report.

“Of which, the passenger load factor for domestic, regional and international routes decreased by 18.40 percentage points, 72.46 percentage points and 40.35 percentage points, respectively, as compared to the same period last year.”

With China getting on top of controlling the spread of the virus, the airline has slowly been able to serve more passengers. The country has relaxed its restrictions on movement in favor of strict quarantine measures for those entering the country. Anyone arriving has to isolate for 14 days at a government facility, which has to be paid for out of the passenger’s pocket.

China Southern customers
China Southern’s customer service team would have been busy amid all the chaos that the coronavirus outbreak brought on. Photo: Getty Images

Slow progress is better than no progress

The improvement in the nation’s climate looks to have helped China Southern domestically. Nonetheless, passenger activity is still way off what the airline would have been hoping for at the start of this year as they are minimal when matched with April 2019’s results.

Numbers are expected to remain low throughout the summer as the industry continues to be rocked by the health crisis. Regardless, any bit of progress won’t go unnoticed by airlines as they strive to survive amid the tough challenges that they face.

Simple Flying reached out to China Southern for comment on its performance but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What are your thoughts on China Southern’s passenger activity for April? Do you see these numbers continuing throughout the summer? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.