China’s Big Three airlines – China Southern Airlines (ZNH), China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA), and Air China – saw a month-on-month increase in passenger numbers amidst ongoing lockdowns in some of the country's largest cities. 

During the month, Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA) carried the fewest passengers. The airline flew a total of 1.5 million passengers, an increase of 76% compared to April 2022.  

Meanwhile, the country’s national carrier Air China carried a total of 1.8 million passengers, an increase of 36% month-on-month. China Southern Airlines (ZNH), the country’s largest carrier by fleet size, flew a total of 3.4 million passengers in May 2022.  

According to all three airlines, the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in China remains “severe and complex”. 

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Chinese carriers anticipate a 77% drop in passenger traffic during the Labour Day holiday period.
 

China is considered to be one of the strictest places in the world in terms of quarantine requirements and travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the country's strict Zero-COVID policy, millions of people have been placed under lockdown in China’s biggest cities. 

However, China is gradually easing COVID-19 curbs after more than a two-month lockdown. But the overall policy of Zero-COVID remains in place.  

In contrast to China, many countries in Asia-Pacific have eased travel restrictions and opened borders to fully vaccinated passengers beginning February and March 2022. The easing of travel restrictions has resulted in increased passenger numbers.    

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Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines have seen a sharp decline in March 2022 passenger traffic.