Spring Festival: China Eastern Flies Nearly 16.5m Passengers

A line of parked China Eastern Airlines jets.
Photo Credit: China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines (CEA), along with its subsidiaries Shanghai Airlines and China United Airlines, successfully navigated the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, which concluded on March 5th.

The airline group transported nearly 16.5 million passengers on over 106,800 flights, boasting an impressive average load factor exceeding 82%.

Daily Passenger Numbers Peak

CEA data reveals a daily average of over 412,400 passengers during the travel rush. The busiest period occurred between February 14th and 16th, with each day exceeding 480,000 passengers.

As Shanghai’s largest home-based airline, CEA played a crucial role in facilitating over 44,000 flights at Shanghai’s Hongqiao and Pudong International Airports.

A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 approaches over water.
Photo Credit: By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Serving Millions in Shanghai

Spring Festival, also known as Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday in China, marking the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar.

It’s a time for families to reunite, celebrate new beginnings, and usher in good fortune. This festive period traditionally translates to a surge in air travel as people travel home for celebrations.

This year, China Eastern Airlines played a vital role in managing this significant increase in air traffic.

China Eastern Airlines catered to a diverse range of travelers during the Spring Festival. The count at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport included over 6.85 million passengers.

This number included 530,000 transit passengers and over 4,000 unaccompanied minors receiving exceptional care.

A China Eastern Airlines 787 approaches to land.
Photo Credit: Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Outbound Travel sees Increased Demand

“Outbound travel” emerged as a defining trend for the 2024 Spring Festival travel rush. Favorable policies, such as visa-free initiatives, boosted the popularity of China Eastern Airlines’ Southeast Asian routes and flights between China and Italy.

Destinations like Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand experienced a significant increase in passenger volume following the implementation of visa-free policies.

Notably, flights to Malaysia boasted an average load factor of 82.7% during the first two months of 2024, while passenger numbers on China-Italy routes witnessed a remarkable 62% year-on-year growth.

Seamless Connectivity and In-Flight Wi-Fi

China Eastern Airlines’ industry-leading “full-journey online” in-flight Wi-Fi service witnessed a surge in usage during the travel rush.

Statistics show that over 540,000 passengers utilized the Wi-Fi service on more than 10,787 wide-body aircraft flights.

About China Eastern

China Eastern Airlines is one of China’s largest airlines, headquartered in Shanghai. It is one of the “Big Three” airlines in the People’s Republic of China, along with Air China and China Southern Airlines.

China Eastern Airlines operates domestic and international flights, with hubs at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

The airline was established in 1988 and is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, which includes airlines such as Delta Air Lines, KLM, and Korean Air. The carrier operates a fleet of over 700 aircraft, including Airbus A320s, Boeing 737s, and Boeing 787s.

Here are some of the destinations that China Eastern Airlines flies to:

  • North America: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver
  • Europe: Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome
  • Asia: Bangkok, Cebu, Dhaka, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo
  • Australia: Melbourne, Sydney

China Eastern Airlines offers a variety of cabin classes, including Economy Class, Business Class, and First Class.


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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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