China takes flight again according to a survey by Cirium

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China takes flight again according to a survey by Cirium
Source: Twitter @PEKAirport
October 22, 2021

81% of respondents say they plan to fly at least once in the next 12 months


Chinese travelers lead the recovery in air travel, with 96% intention to travel, according to a new survey by Cirium, the aviation analytics company. 81% of those surveyed say they plan to fly at least once in the next 12 months and 50% plan to do so this fall. Of those who plan to travel, 73% say they will do so for leisure and only 24% plan to do so for business.

The subdued demand is also reflected in China's passenger traffic, which is showing signs of a strong recovery. In September 2021, China's traffic was 87% of 2019 levels, well ahead of the rest of Asia (42%).

According to the survey, two-thirds (66%) of Chinese travelers have taken a domestic flight since the start of the pandemic. Cirium flight scheduling data reveals that domestic travel in the fourth quarter will exceed pre-pandemic levels and will grow 15% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The long months of restrictions related to China's "Zero COVID" policy have made the pent-up demand for international and regional travel palpable.

More than half (61%) of those surveyed said they were willing to travel outside of mainland China once the borders were opened, with Southeast Asia the preferred region, followed by Europe, Australia / New Zealand and East Asia.

Jeremy Bowen, CEO of Cirium, said: “The Cirium survey highlights the confidence of the Chinese traveler when it comes to flying domestically and the pent-up demand when it comes to flying internationally. There is a clear preference for Southeast Asia, so the challenge is to recover trips to other markets such as East Asia, which was previously one of the main destinations.

"The results also reveal the importance of health and security measures, which should be applied to increase confidence in international travel from China."

Although it is true that Chinese travelers show confidence in flying again, 35% of those surveyed said they would probably travel less by plane, after the pandemic. They are primarily concerned with health, hygiene and safety.

Almost all respondents (96%) support the obligation to wear a mask when traveling by plane and more than 85% favor the introduction of health passports as a requirement for flying and the use of apps that promote contactless travel.

When choosing an airline, respondents value the mandatory use of masks (66%), the existence of improved cleaning processes (65%) and the negative COVID-19 test before departure (62%).

When it comes to the time spent at the airport, Chinese travelers are divided. 53% said they will reduce the time they spend at airports, compared to 21% who will seek to increase their time at the airport, as they feel safer with the security measures adopted by COVID-19.

This survey was conducted by the independent market intelligence firm AudienceNet on behalf of Cirium. The company interviewed more than 2,060 adults in mainland China between August 30 and September 8, 2021. The margin of error in the reported data did not exceed +/- 3% with a confidence level of 95%.

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