Aviation industry steadily recovering

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China’s civil aviation sector showed signs of steady recovery in the first six months of this year, with international air cargo transportation rising remarkably, official data indicate.

From January to June, 245 million passenger trips were handled by commercial flights, about 76 percent of the same period in 2019, Zhang Qing, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s development and planning department, told a news conference in Beijing on July 9.

She said many more passenger trips were handled in the second quarter than the first, showing the sector’s steady growth.

The global aviation sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a significant decline in passenger trips. The International Air Transport Association earlier estimated that international travel won’t recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Although international air passenger transportation volume has declined, air cargo transportation has shown strong growth, especially in the international market.

During the pandemic, air cargo transportation has been crucial in sending medical supplies. In addition, people have been encouraged to stay at home, creating a boon for online retail and express delivery, thereby boosting air cargo transportation.

Administration data show that during the first half of this year, 3.74 million metric tons of cargo and mail were transported by domestic commercial flights, an increase of 6.4 percent over the same period in 2019. International cargo flights increased by 17.8 percent.

Yu Biao, director of the administration’s transportation department, said that the administration has issued policies to support air cargo transportation, opening “green channels” for chartered cargo flights by Chinese and international airlines.

By the end of June, the sector had handled 138,000 cargo flights, of which 96,000 were international.

Many passenger planes have been remodeled to transport cargo, especially to international destinations, Yu said.

He added that the administration will pay more attention to cargo transportation, improving infrastructure construction and distributing more time slots to cargo flights.

Express delivery companies are buying airplanes to expand businesses overseas. Last month, a full-cargo plane joined the fleet of parcel delivery company YTO Express.

Also last month, 16 parcel delivery companies, including YTO Express, ZTO Express, SF Express and Yunda Express, launched an alliance to promote the development of international express deliveries.