Air China has filed domestic schedules for the week-long May holidays that offer similar capacity to 2019 levels, a remarkable sign of planned domestic aviation recovery.
It is quite possible the plans will be revised down again, as the airline continually adjusts its capacity, but there are few if any other airlines that would even contemplate such a recovery. As almost every other country has grounded most of its fleet, China is sending a message to the world that it believes normality is returning.
This is the first in a new CAPA report series, ‘Airline Future Plans’ , is designed to show which airlines have started the slow post-COVID-19 recovery process, moving beyond the operation of skeletal networks. The series aims to provide rare insights into airline strategy on core fleet and network deployment as airline management grapples with fast-changing circumstances.
China is emerging first, having largely contained its COVID-19 outbreak. The patterns established in China may offer some guidance to the rest of the world, just as China’s strict containment measures have also provided cues to efforts elsewhere.
This report looks in particular at Beijing-based Air China’s forward capacity/schedule plans and fleet utilisation trends.
China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines will also be covered in the first wave. Airlines in other countries will follow once they show evidence of success in containing COVID-19 outbreaks, such as in South Korea. The focus will be on countries whose airlines have access to domestic markets, which are expected to unlock first.