Return of Coronavirus in Beijing threatens to derail recovery of Chinese airlines

More than 1,000 flights in and out of two major airports in Beijing were cancelled on Wednesday as the authorities moved to curb the spread of a possible second wave of deadly Coronavirus infections.

Some 1,255 flights that had been due to take off or land at Beijing Daxing International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport on Wednesday were cancelled, about two thirds of the day’s total inbound and outbound traffic, according to data from Flight Master. The figure was also being reported on the Communist Party’s Global Times website.

The move to reimpose restrictions on air travel risks derailing the recovery of China’s domestic aviation market, which has seen the most impressive rebound among international peers since the pandemic outbreak, analysts said.

“The return of the pandemic in Beijing brings a new shock to the domestic aviation industry,” said Lin Zhijie, an expert at the official Aviation Think Tank. “In recent days, the number of flights had fallen by about 20 per cent. Now Beijing has upgraded the restrictions and is requiring people to prove they’ve been tested for the virus before they leave, it will drop by another 20 per cent.”

The flight cancellations came after Beijing raised its emergency response level back to II from III on Tuesday night as new infections of the potentially lethal virus climbed to 137 since Thursday. The new outbreak has been traced to the Xinfadi wholesale food centre in the city where thousands of tons of vegetables, fruit and meat are traded every day.


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