China sees promising signs for a rebound in flight demand: Adara

Traveller intelligence provider, Adara, has picked up a new upward trend in data relating to China travel in an analysis published on Saturday.

It noted that China was the first global market that was impacted by Covid-19, and travel both to and from the country had started declining beginning in mid-January.

Analysing anonymised behavior of travellers on air and hotel bookings for 2020 year-to-date, Adara has found that there are promising signs for a rebound in flights within China and to China from international origins that align with the trajectory of the pandemic.

Travel to China

For this analysis, travel to China is referring to both domestic China origin travel (example: Beijing to Harbin) and international original travel (example: Sydney to Shanghai) with China as the destination.

The number of unique travellers (both domestic and inbound international) searching for flights to China declined during three weeks in February to only one-third the number of searchers that was seen in early-January. In the past two weeks, Adara has seen an uptick in the number of searchers. Unique searchers were up 29% for the week of March 8, compared to the week of March 1.


The number of total searches follows a similar pattern. The total number of searches for flights to China (both domestic and international inbound) is currently 55% of the volume of searches seen in the week of January 5, up from a low of 34% in mid-February. The average number of searches per searcher has increased in the past month, with an average of five to six searches per unique searcher.


Those who have searched for flights to China (domestic and inbound international) in the past several weeks are looking for flights with shorter booking windows. 58% of flights searched were with a 0-15 day advanced booking window versus only 38% of flights in early January. In addition, the percentage of flights searched for business travel has almost doubled since pre-Covid-19 levels (38% versus 20% in early January). As the Chinese government ramps up its efforts to boost the economy, these shorter booking windows and increased flight intent for business travel is not surprising.

Total bookings to China are also rebounding, but at a slower pace. They are currently at about 30% of the level of flights that were booked to China in early January. Based on February 2020 data, time from initial flight search to booking data is an average of 13 days. Adara said that it will continue to monitor whether flight bookings to China will catch up to the trends we see in increased searches for flights to China.

Travel from China

Travel from China, for this analysis, refers to travel with origin in China and with an international destination, such as travel from Beijing to London.

Flight bookings from travellers in China outbound to International destinations have yet to post any genuine rebound, either in searches or bookings. Adara said this is expected bases on the travel bans that are still in place.

“We are seeing subtle but meaningful changes across flight bookings and searches for China travel. While it is too early to predict any long-term patterns, these insights serve to help travel brands better understand how quickly the market shifts as the Coronavirus evolves,” said Carolyn Corda, CMO at Adara.

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