About 4.5 billion passengers flew last year.. Airports in most parts of the world saw more passenger transport than in 2020. This was the worst year ever for the aviation industry.

The recovery was expected. More people have been fully vaccinated, restrictions have been relaxed, confidence and demand have increased. Therefore, more seats and flights followed.

China’s delayed recovery

China It was a serious exception.7 out of 10 busiest people, as shown in the table below airport Recorded in 2021 few Passengers than in 2020. Imagine that China didn’t have such a huge domestic market.

According to the Airports Council, all 10 airports have fallen into the world’s airport rankings. Especially in the United States, it performed better than the fast-growing airports. Even Orlando and Las Vegas are among the ten busiest people in the world, albeit temporarily.

airport 2020 passengers 2021 passengers 2021 rate of change
Guangzhou 43,760,427 40,249,679 -8.0
Chengdu 40,741,509 40,117,496 -1.5
Shenzhen 37,916,059 36,358,185 -4.1
Chongqing 34,937,789 35,766,284 2.4
Shanghai Hongqiao 31,165,641 33,207,337 6.6
Beijing capital 34,513,827 32,639,013 -5.4
Kunming 32,989,127 32,221,195 -2.3
Shanghai Pudong 30,476,531 32,206,814 5.7
Xian 31,073,884 30,173,312 -2.9
Hangzhou 28,224,342 28,163,820 -0.2

Be careful: sign up For my weekly new route newsletter.

Guangzhou: The biggest and worst

GuangzhouAt the world’s busiest airport in 2020, passenger traffic fell by 8%, the worst of the top ten. Only Chongqing, Shanghai Hongqiao and Shanghai Pudong countered this trend.

The recovery of Pudong is especially noteworthy given that it is usually the major international airport in a megacity.

China’s recovery went smoothly until the first quarter of 2021, with a particularly marked derailment after mid-2021. As expected, major Chinese airlines reported significant losses in the fourth quarter of 2021, with lower financial performance than in 2020.

China suffers from Delta, especially the Omicron variant and the country’s zero coronavirus response to it. There were numerous blockades and flight cancellations. China soon closed cities and tourist attractions, and citizens avoided traveling.

Flights to / from CAN

Of the 10 busiest airports in China in 2021, the number of passengers in Guangzhou (1st) decreased by the largest percentage compared to 2020. Image: Flightradar24.

What’s happening now?

As mid-2022 approaches, the world is increasingly returning to normal bar staff shortages and other unfavorable events that impede recovery. for example, London Heathrow expects peak summer days to be close to 2019 passenger numbers..

Not in China. Recovery continued to be delayed even in April 2022, with more cases of COVID recorded than in 2020 and 2021. Currently, Shanghai is blocked by strict quarantine restrictions, but mitigation is expected despite spiral cases.

Due to the government’s zero tolerance approach, numerous flights are still canceled nationwide.

China's domestic network April 2022

China’s domestic route network for April 2022. Image: OAG.

Future outlook

China’s non-COVID policy cannot continue indefinitely. Aside from the decline in population tolerance, that would mean enormous damage to its economy.

Perhaps Shanghai’s deregulation despite the surge in incidents, like other countries, points the way to go.

As predicted by Stephano Baronchi, Regional Director of ACI Asia Pacific, China needs to give something to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year. April 13He said:

Domestic traffic-dominated markets, such as China, are expected to recover faster until they reach pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2023.

When do you think China will recover meaningfully? Please let us know in the comments.

American Airlines Boeing 777-223 (ER) N794AN

The busiest route in the world in April 2022

Read next

About the author