Chinese airlines are looking to begin resuming services thanks to an improvement in the coronavirus situation within China. However, it is still a slow rollout and it may take months for the network of routes to return to normal.
What are the details?
According to a report by Flight Global, a few mainline carriers in China have revealed plans to start reopening closed routes.
These routes were shut down by the coronavirus and many have speculated that it might be months until services will resume. However, it seems that with the situation improving in China (the virus spread is slowing and the government is confident that its steps will contain the virus) airlines have started to make plans to resume routes.
“The novel coronavirus outbreak is under control and the general situation is improving after no new cases were registered in 14 of China’s 34 provinces and autonomous regions,” the country’s health commission deputy leader said Friday to Spanish publisher EFE.
Now, we should stress that these are plans at this stage and the services are very much at the behest of not only the Chinese government but other nations that the routes will fly to. It is possible that the other nations that these airlines operate to might squash these plans before they can get off the ground (pun not intended).
The airlines in question that are making plans are:
- Air China
- China Eastern
- Low-cost carrier Spring Airlines
Other Chinese airlines, such as China Southern and Hainan Airlines, have not yet revealed any restart plans.
What routes will be restarted?
In terms of international routes, Air China intends to restart its Frankfurt to Chengdu route by February 28th whilst China Eastern will begin operation to two Myanmar cities, Yangon and Mandalay, by February 25th.
Both airlines also intend to slowly roll out up to 800 canceled domestic services to help link families and other trapped people around the nation.
These services are not at maximum capacity either. The Frankfurt route by Air China normally operates three times a week but will only begin with two smaller A330-200s twice a week from the 29th. The carrier also served many other international cities from its hub in Chengdu, such as Paris and Sydney, but has not made any plans to restart those services.
China’s aviation industry has felt the full impact of the coronavirus, with up to 80% of all international flights affected, particularly to close neighbors like Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philipines, Japan and the recently banned South Korea.
Why are they restarting routes?
For one, we should be welcoming the news that things are starting to return to normal. The airlines are confident that the spread of the virus is slowing down and that they won’t be facilitating any more outbreaks with their services.
Additionally, China wants to restore confidence in its country and knows that every day that passes that the coronavirus blocks flights, their international reputation decreases (as well as the revenue for millions of people within and outside of China).
It is notable that the first services that are being started are to Myanmar, a country that is well within the sphere of influence of China. Likely they are a ‘safe bet’ and will gladly be happy to receive Chinese visitors to get into their good graces. It remains to be seen if these flights go ahead.
What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments.