Transportation indicators show uptick in December as restrictions scrapped

Transportation indicators bottomed out in December as Covid restrictions in China were scrapped. Most passenger transportation metrics still showed sharp year-on-year declines, but month-on-month declines slowed and airline volumes rose sharply.

While these numbers have reached a bottom, they are still far from pre-Covid levels. Domestic airline flights in December saw 18.4 million passengers, compared with 46.4 million passengers in December 2019. 

Road passenger trips were 256 million in December, but this compares to 1.0 billion in December 2019. And intracity trips were 230 million compared to 588 million in December 2019.

Over the next year, monthly indicators will likely show steep month-on-month gains, but this is coming off a relatively low base, and travel volumes remain far off their pre-Covid levels. 

It remains to be seen whether there will be any lasting changes to consumer behavior. China’s zero Covid policies last nearly three years. Some consumers may engage in ‘revenge spending’ but others may have simply changed their consumption and travel habits after several years of restrictions.