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Carriers flying more planes to tap demand surge

By ZHU WENQIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-01 10:18
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An Emirates aircraft takes off from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangdong province in July. [Photo/China Daily]

UAE-based carrier Emirates will further ramp up its operations in China to satisfy surging travel demand after China optimized its COVID-19 measures, aiming to resume flight capacity in China to the level seen in 2019 by the end of this year, the airline said.

On March 15, Emirates will resume daily direct flights between Dubai and Beijing, using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The company has begun the process of hiring more ground staff at Beijing Capital International Airport and more sales employees at its Beijing office, which will bring Emirates' operations in China to 21 weekly flights.

In January, Emirates resumed its twice-weekly service that connects Shanghai and Dubai. The airline will increase the frequency of daily nonstop service from Wednesday. Emirates began operating nonstop flights between Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Dubai from Feb 1.

"The occupancy rates of flights that connect Dubai and Shanghai have been satisfactory and sales of inbound flights to China have been booming. The China market has resumed 40 percent to 50 percent of volume compared with the period before the pandemic," said Adam Li, vice-president of Emirates' China unit.

"After China reopened its borders, the number of tourists who took flights from China grew rapidly, accounting for 40 percent to 50 percent of all passengers. The rest of the passengers are mainly business travelers and government officials," Li said.

Following the pandemic, Emirates has upgraded in-flight meals and introduced a variety of cuisines and vegetarian options. It will also install high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi service onboard 50 new Airbus A350 aircraft, scheduled to enter service in 2024.

Globally, Emirates hired some 6,000 flight attendants last year and has increased flights from Dubai to popular destinations including London and South Africa. The airline plans to invest $135 million in building a new pilot training center in Dubai, which is expected to be put into operation in 2024.

With China's easing of entry restrictions, the global air travel market is on track to further recovery and more carriers plan to resume flights or boost frequencies.

Cathay Pacific Airways announced that on March 26, it will resume twice-weekly passenger flights that connect Haikou, Hainan province and Hong Kong, providing more choices for leisure and business travelers in Hainan traveling to and from Hong Kong and via Hong Kong to other parts of the world. This will be the 15th route that Cathay Pacific resumed on the Chinese mainland.

Tianjin Airlines said starting March 24, it will resume flights that connect Tianjin, Zhengzhou in Henan province with Sydney, which will become the first intercontinental regular route resumed by the airline. It is of great significance to support daily business, tourism and cargo transportation between China and Australia, Tianjin Airlines said.

"After China's air travel market enters its new flying season in late March, the capacities of carriers, especially foreign carriers, will gradually adjust. The number of international flights available is expected to further increase," said Shang Kejia, deputy director of the transport department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

"The growth in international business personnel exchanges and the growing international travel demand from tourists and students will contribute to recovery," Shang said.

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