China’s biggest budget carrier adds to chorus of weak air demand

2023/3/4 11:09:42
Spring Airlines Co., China’s largest budget carrier, says international air travel remains weak and is stunting its recovery from Covid, even as peers globally struggle to keep up with demand.

“We’re waiting for stronger demand to come,” Spring Airlines’ Vice-President Zhang Wu’an said at the Aviation Festival Asia in Singapore. For Spring, which operates an all-Airbus SE 117-strong fleet across China, international capacity is at just 20% of pre-Covid levels, compared to 80% for domestic.

Zhang said Chinese airlines still face many restrictions that airlines in other countries aren’t subject to now that Covid has all but receded. Labor shortages, as well as volatility in oil prices from the war in Ukraine, may also impact China’s aviation recovery, Zhang said, adding that he thinks international outbound travel could take as long as a year or more to make a full comeback.

Longer term, Spring has much bolder ambitions. China’s aviation market, while slower to recover from Covid, is still the world’s second biggest after the US.