According to an analysis from Routesonline, Chinese airlines are on track this year to collectively carry 600 million passengers in a single year, a massive increase from the 440 million carried in 2013. During the first half of 2018, Chinese carriers flew 304 million passengers on both domestic and international routes. In 2017, Chinese airlines carried 589 million passengers, an increase of 12 percent over 2016. What the total passenger statistics will look like by the end year remains to be seen, but it’s likely that growth will be less dramatic than 2017’s massive 12 percent uptick. Of course, maintaining such rapid growth over the long-term would prove challenging for both carriers and infrastructure to keep up with.
China’s air carriers are on track to carry 600 million passengers this year
The majority of passengers on Chinese carriers are, unsurprisingly, domestic travelers. In 2017, of the 589 million total passengers, 523 million were domestic travelers. China’s market for domestic tourism is many times larger than the market for outbound travel. According to the China Tourism Academy, Chinese tourists spent $115.29 billion overseas in 2017 and spent $720 billion at home.
Overall, Chinese domestic tourism is growing at a faster pace than Chinese international tourism. Last year, Chinese tourists made 130 million outbound trips, an increase of 7 percent. On the other hand, the number of domestic trips grew by 12.8 percent to reach around 5 billion trips, although the vast majority of these trips were likely made via land-based transportation.
China Southern is China’s biggest airline, and the company carried 97.4 million passengers last year
China Southern Airlines carried the most passengers last year with 97.4 million. China Eastern Airlines came in second with 95.3 million. Air China, Hainan Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines carried 68.8 million passengers, 37.6 million passengers, and 33.8 million passengers respectively.
These figures do not reflect the total passenger numbers of all these major carriers’ subsidiaries. For example, Air China Group claims that collectively its various air carriers carried a total of 105 million passengers in 2017. Moreover, China Southern Airlines owns 55 percent of Xiamen Airlines.