China airline passenger traffic was 39.8 million trips in January, an increase of 34.8%. While this is a strong recovery, passenger traffic was still only 74.5% of January 2019 levels.
Train traffic over the 40-day period around Chinese New Year fared better, rising 37.4% and seeing 348 million passenger trips. This puts train travel back at 85.5% of 2019 levels.
Train travel tends to be cheaper than flying and is more often used for shorter trips. The stronger recovery in train travel could indicate that consumers are still staying closer to home and looking for cheaper ways to travel amid a slower economy.
This is also reflected in data for Sanya’s airport which saw passenger traffic only rise 24.7% year on year. Located on the island province of Hainan, Sanya is a tourist beach city that is relatively more expensive to travel to compared to other destinations within Mainland China.