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Air carriers anticipating holiday rush

Passengers board a flight at Hami Airport in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last month. POLAT NIYAZ/FOR CHINA DAILY

Country to lift restrictions on limit of weekly flights on 49 domestic routes

China's air travel sector has recovered significantly and is expected to brace for a holiday travel rush as National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival are around the corner, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Tuesday.

Zhang Qing, deputy director of the administration's development planning department, told a news conference that civil carriers handled about 45.54 million passenger trips last month, nearly three-fourths of the figure reported in August last year. In February, the number was less than one-fifth of that in February last year.

"The domestic air market, in particular, has seen accelerated recovery," she said. "Over 45.35 million domestic passenger trips were made last month, recovering to more than 80 percent of the level during the same period last year."

The figure, surpassing that in January when the air travel market had not yet been severely ravaged by the COVID-19 epidemic, marked the highest monthly domestic passenger transport volume this year, she added.

Zhang also noted that as COVID-19 is continuing to spread globally, international passenger flights are still at a low level, transporting some 189,000 passengers in August, or an average of 6,000 passengers a day-a year-on-year decrease of 97.3 percent.

To help the virus-battered industry speed up its recovery, the administration has also rolled out favorable policies for domestic airline services, the civil aviation regulator said.

Jin Junhao, deputy director of the administration's transportation department, said the country will lift restrictions on the limit of weekly flights on 49 domestic air routes, giving carriers more flexibility to operate passenger flights involving airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, among other busy airports.

The regulator also eased access for airlines to operate regional flights linking smaller airports with major hubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to help airlines tap into potential markets, as well as promote the recovery of small and medium-sized airports, he said.

The civil aviation sector is currently gearing up for a surge in domestic air trips as the country looks to embrace its first long vacation since the epidemic has been mostly subdued.

The increasing travel demand is also fueled by this year's longer holiday since the Mid-Autumn Festival, which also falls on Oct 1 this year, will overlap with the weeklong National Day holiday, giving people an extended holiday of eight days until Oct 8.

According to online travel agency Tongcheng-eLong, flight ticket prices have seen a significant increase ahead of the holiday, and the average ticket price of return trips is close to that of the same period last year.

The administration will step up efforts to ensure the safety and on-time performance of the flights during the holiday in a bid to guarantee smooth travel for passengers.

(China Daily)