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China's aviation industry suffers heavy losses amid COVID-19 outbreak
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China's aviation industry suffers heavy losses amid COVID-19 outbreak

China's aviation industry suffered major losses in February due to the novel coronavirus outbreak that halted flights, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Thursday.

The country's aviation sector in February posted losses of 24.59 billion yuan (about 3.53 billion U.S. dollars). Aviation companies lost 20.96 billion yuan, the biggest in a single month, said Zhang Qing, an official from the country's aviation authority, in an online press conference.

The aviation market in China has shrunk substantially. The total air transport turnover slumped by 73.9 percent year on year to 2.52 billion tonne-kilometer last month. The passenger traffic plummeted by 84.5 percent to 8.34 million trips, while freight traffic dropped by 21 percent from the same period last year to 0.297 million tonnes, said Zhang.

In addition, international air transport has also encountered severe challenges as overseas imported cases have brought huge challenges to the current epidemic prevention and control, further impacting the international air transport.

Apart from funding and discount support for aviation enterprises, the aviation authority said it has implemented preferential policies to reduce fees and cushion the burden on the industry, including exempting ground service charges for major transportation missions, lowering charges of landing fees and air traffic fees.

Domestic flights resume to 40 percent of the normal level

As positive results are seen in epidemic control and the gradual resumption of work and production, domestic flights resumed to 40 percent of the normal level last week, mainly from the labor export areas to the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta regions, said Qi Junhao, an official from the CAAC. Among them, airports in Shenzhen, Chengdu and Chongqing have returned to over 60 percent of normal levels.

As of March 10, over 530 charter flights for resumption of work have completed more than 28,000 trips. As of March 11, the resumption of civil aviation airport construction projects reached 61.7 percent, and that for major national airport projects reached 76.6 percent. It is expected that the resumption would be 86 percent in early April, said Qi.

CGTNGu Yetao

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