Passenger flights inside China are leading the recovery of the country’s aviation network, pushing overall flight figures (passenger and freight) above 2019 levels for the first time. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said the total transport turnover of the sector was 11.37 billion ton-kilometres in July, a 67% increase from 2022, and “exceeding the level recorded in the same period of 2019 for the first time.” 

The passenger sector, both domestic and international, grew to a new monthly record of 62.43 million trips. That represents an 82% rise from July 2022, when the nation’s borders were still closed as China battled new COVID-19 outbreaks, and reinstituted city-wide lockdowns. 

But of the 62.43 million flight trips made, 59 million trips were domestic. Not only does this clearly exemplify the importance of domestic aviation for the Chinese sector, the domestic rebound has overtaken 2019 figures. 

These trends continued over the northern hemisphere summer months. In June, domestic flights were at 117% of 2022 levels, although cargo and mail “turnover” lagged 3% behind the same period a year ago.