While some capacity has been restored for Mainland China flights, it is likely to remain low for the foreseeable future. 

In its monthly update, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) states that “the volume of flights…may continue to to operate at low levels in the future”, as the coronavirus outbreak still holds significant risk levels. 

After bottoming out in February, when the outbreak hit China badly, Chinese carriers have been steadily adding domestic capacity from March into April and May. These, however, are still lower compared to the same period a year ago. 

To this end, CAAC spokesperson and director of aviation safety Xiong Jie says the administration will focus first on establishing pandemic risk prevention, “to create a safe operating environment”. 

For the month of March, airlines in China carried 15.1 million passengers, nearly 72% lower year-on-year. 

However, freight proved to be a bright spot for the Chinese carriers — the CAAC notes that the total freight volume carried rose about 28% year-on-year for the month, to 253,000 tonnes. 

The administration also provided updates on the gradual restoration of flights into Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. 

When the Wuhan Tianhe International airport reopened on 8 April, 19 Chinese carriers resumed flights to 45 domestic points. 

The CAAC notes that as of 14 April, more than 40,000 passengers have flown in and out of Wuhan. Nearly 800 in- and outbound passenger flights have also been mounted in the period.