Just over a month ago, China was the third largest international aviation market in the world behind the United States and United Kingdom. Now it ranks between Portugal and Vietnam.
China was on an ascent, set to take over the United States as the largest international aviation market in the world later this decade. But Coronavirus fears have placed a roadblock toward that goal.
Over the last five weeks, China has slashed international capacity by 80%. Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan have been hit the hardest, but China has reduced or suspended service to regions around the world.
Japan has lost the most seats (245,000) with Thailand close behind at 236,000. But in terms of percentage loss, Taiwan has lost 90% of seats while Hong Kong has lost 85% of its seats.
China now falls behind Portugal in terms of international capacity and ranks only slightly ahead of Vietnam according to an OAG report.
China Southern and China Eastern have been hit hardest in terms of international capacity. To put this in perceptive, China Southern now operates only 800 more international seats per week (and that is including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) than Air Astana. Meanwhile, China Eastern has dropped to 113th place when it comes to global ranking, falling just ahead of Tunis Air.
The domestic Chinese market has been hurt even more. This week, Chinese carriers will offer 10.4 million fewer seats than before the Coronavirus outbreak went viral. That means for every one International seat lost, China lost six domestic seats. China Eastern will operate 271,000 fewer seats per day than five weeks ago.
Until the Coronavirus is contained, expect more cancellations. Aviation cancellations in China have eclipsed all past health scares. The market will certainly recover eventually, but long-term growth may be compromised for years even once normality returns.
image: 王之桐 / Wikimedia Commons