China’s ‘big three’ airlines – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines – saw November’s capacity and passenger numbers decline sharply from a year earlier.

Air China’s ASK’s dropped 26.2% year on year, with RPKs falling 22.7%, according to a company statement.

A China Eastern Boeing 737

Source: Boeing

A China Eastern Boeing 737

During the month it carried 2.2 million passengers, down 28.6% from a year earlier. It’s passenger load factor for the month was 62.1%, up 2.8% from a year earlier.

At Shanghai-based China Eastern, ASKs fell 43.2% from a year earlier, with RPKs dropping 36.7%. The airline carried 2.5 million passengers during November, down 41.4% from a year earlier.

Load factor during November was 55% during the month, up five percentage points from a year earlier.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines also had a dismal November, with ASKs falling 42.6%, and RPKs drop 40.5%.

It carried 4.3 million passengers during the month, down 40.5%. Load factors came in at 65.6%, up 2.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

The carriers provided no insight into the sharp drop off in traffic during the month, but the results likely reflect China’s sudden dropping of leader Xi Jinping’s ‘zero-Covid’ policy. Anecdotally, this has resulted in a massive spike in coronavirus infections.