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China Eastern Airlines Sees Record Passenger Traffic After Introducing New Routes for Lunar New Year

China Eastern Airlines Sees Record Passenger Traffic After Introducing New Routes for Lunar New Year


China Eastern Airlines saw record passenger traffic during the Lunar New Year holiday from February 10 to 17. The Shanghai-based carrier conducted 24,800 flights and served more than 3.56 million passengers. China Eastern's strong passenger numbers are part of a strong recovery in China's aviation sector in recent months.


China Eastern Airlines' first C919, with registration B-919A | Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Passenger Traffic During Lunar New Year


The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) recorded 17.99 million passenger trips during the eight-day Lunar New Year period, equivalent to 2.25 million daily trips. Airlines completed 137,000 flights across China, or 17,117 flights each day, representing a 33.2% increase from the same period last year. The carriers operating domestic flights include China's Big Three airlines: Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern Airlines.




China Eastern saw the Lunar New Year as the perfect time to operate its newly received Comac C919 fleet. The carriers' four C919s accommodated high demand on routes connecting Shanghai to Beijing and Chengdu. The C919s served 9,670 passengers across 66 flights during the eight days. China Eastern also used various Airbus and Boeing planes in its fleet to transport passengers.


China Eastern's second C919, with registration B-919C | Photo: Weibo


Many passengers traveled outside mainland China for the Lunar New Year due to the large Chinese diaspora in many countries, especially in North America and the Asia-Pacific region. China Eastern offered 2,843 international flights during this period. A strong recovery in outbound tourism from three years of COVID-19 restrictions and simple visa policies for Chinese travelers visiting many Asian countries contributed to strong passenger traffic. Chinese visitors still require a visa in advance to visit many Western countries, including those with large Chinese diaspora populations. 


The following places have at least one day of the Lunar New Year as a public holiday:


  • Brunei
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • South Korea (for a different holiday called Seollal, which also occurs on the first day of the lunisolar calendar)
  • Singapore
  • Suriname
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United States (New York and California only)
  • Vietnam (for a different holiday called Tết, which also occurs on the first day of the lunisolar calendar)


China Eastern's third C919, with registration B-919D | Photo: Chinadaily.com.cn


China Eastern Airlines saw occupancy rates on the following international routes reach 90 percent during the Lunar New Year period:


  • Cairns, Australia (CNS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Phuket, Thailand (HKT)
  • Singapore (SIN)
  • Toronto (YYZ)




New International Routes


On February 7, China Eastern announced the launch of new international routes and the addition of new frequencies on existing routes ahead of the holiday. The airline launched 15 international routes, including Beijing-Daxing (PKX) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Shanghai-Pudong (PVG) to Perth (PER). China Eastern added more flights on services connecting PVG to Bangkok (BKK), KUL, Malé (MLE), and Sydney (SYD). Finally, the carrier resumed seasonal flights between PVG and CNS.


China Eastern's fourth C919, with registration B-919E | Photo: China Eastern Airlines


Alongside Chinese travelers visiting other countries, many people from abroad visit China during the Lunar New Year period. These passengers include people in the Chinese diaspora who still have family living in mainland China. China Eastern plans to operate 2,322 round-trip flights between China and Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand during the Spring Festival travel rush. These 40 days, from January 6 to March 5, represent the world's largest human migration. 


Beijing and Shanghai are just some of the Chinese cities with an expanded schedule of international flights. China Eastern also flies to Southeast Asia from Kunming (KMG), Hangzhou (HGH), Guangzhou (CAN), Xi'an (XIY), and several other Chinese cities. Outside of Asia, the carrier serves Chinese communities located in Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, and North America. China Eastern's flights contributed to China witnessing approximately 13.52 million inbound and outbound international trips during the Lunar New Year, a 2.8% increase from the same holiday period last year. 



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George Mwangi
Aviation writer based in Washington, DC. Visited 21 countries on thousands of miles of flights.

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