According to ratings agency Fitch, China’s international air passenger traffic will reach just 12% of pre-coronavirus levels in the first three months of 2023, with 2.24 million outbound passengers after borders reopened on Jan. 8.
In its first quarterly airport traffic report released on Monday, Fitch said the slow recovery in Chinese international travel was the result of a combination of factors, including the fact that many overseas routes have not yet fully resumed, travel remains hesitant and certain coronavirus tests already in place.
However, the agency did say it expects pent-up travel demand and the gradual opening of borders to drive a more substantial recovery in the international passenger market in the medium term.
It also noted that there has been no such lag in domestic travel, which had recovered to 80% of 2019 levels as of March. Air passenger traffic almost tripled in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, with domestic air travel up 114% in January compared to December.
“We expect traffic growth at Chinese airports to continue to show momentum through 2023, bringing the industry closer to normal levels,” Fitch’s report said.
“Based on current forecasts, we expect a full-year recovery to 2019 levels by the end of 2024. However, the pace of recovery will depend more on traffic conditions as well as individual factors at each airport.”