China expects a sharp jump in travel during the Lunar New Year holidays, with about 2.1 billion trips — by air, land and water — to be made over the period, twice as much as the same time last year.
The recent relaxation of Covid restrictions is likely to spur people to return home to visit families, as well as take vacations, Vice Transport Minister Xu Chengguang said at a briefing in Beijing January 6. Still, numbers will be short of pre-COVID levels — at about 70% of the same period in 2019, he said.
The holiday in China officially runs from January 21 to 27 in 2023, but the traffic numbers are based on a period of 40 days around the Lunar New Year — typically the busiest season for travel in China and the biggest annual migration of people on the planet.
The travel rush could coincide with a peak in COVID infections, Xu said, warning that this could be the most uncertain and complicated holiday in years. It will also take time for transport staff to get back up to speed after the disruptions of the pandemic, potentially leading to safety challenges, he said.
There will be 11,000 flights a day on average, according to Wan Xiangdong, chief pilot at the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Hainan, Beijing, Haikou, Kunming, Chongqing and Chengdu are among the most popular destinations.
China’s rapid unwinding of its COVID Zero policy has sparked a recovery in the world’s biggest domestic air-travel market, with Lunar New Year bookings likely to be the highest in three years, travel portal Qunar.com said in a recent report.
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