China’s Scheduled Flights Recover Dramatically in January 2023

China Southern Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Photo Credit: James Field/AviationSource

LONDON – China’s total scheduled flights for January 2023 are expected to be extremely close to that of pre-COVID levels. Let’s take a look at this sharp rise.

Data provided by Cirium states that the number of scheduled flights for this month is projected to reach 99.8% of January 2019’s levels due to the busy demand expected during the Chinese New Year.

Without further ado, let’s get into the numbers…

The Numbers…

Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

For this month alone, around 408,800 flights are scheduled to depart in China, which equates to around 69.4 million seats.

It is understood that the recovery is largely for domestic travel within China, with this number rising by 9.5% compared to January 2019.

However, international departures from China are down 89.8% this month compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Data provided by below will provide further insight into this.

Individualisation of China’s Movements So Far…

Data provided by

Looking at China’s statistics at the moment, based on a seven-day rolling average from the flight tracking company, daily movements are on the rise.

On the airports front, Guangzhou remains the busiest with 843 daily movements, with Shenzhen not far behind on 811 movements.

Data provided by

In terms of the busiest city pairs in China, the Shanghai-Shenzhen rotation remains the busiest at 57 average daily movements.

Shanghai-Beijing comes in second with 49 daily movements, with Shanghai-Guangzhou trailing by one daily movement in third place.

On the airlines front, China Southern Airlines remains the most active in the country, with around 1,374 daily movements.

China Eastern Airlines comes second with 1,270 movements.

Data provided by

Using China Southern Airlines as a case study, you can see the massive uptick in demand that is expected between January 15-22.

2,111 movements are expected to take place with the airline, which is a massive 49.72% increase compared to the same period last year.

Such a figure is also exceeding pre-pandemic numbers as well, which is a step in the right direction.

Below is the last four weeks’ worth of data provided by the flight tracking company:

Date2019 Numbers2021 Numbers2022 Numbers2023 NumbersPercentage Difference
December 17-241970 movements1256 movements830 movementsN/A-33.92% (2022 vs. 2021).
December 25-January 1, 20231663 movements1454 movements1028 movements717 movements-30.25% (2023 vs. 2022).
January 1-8, 20231653 movements1473 movements1475 movements1373 movements-6.92% (2023 vs. 2022)
January 8-15, 20231900 movements1372 movements1527 movements1900 movements+24.43% (2023 vs. 2022)
Data provided by

What you can see from the table above is that as soon as the New Year hit, movements shot up exponentially for the carrier, which is where the uptick begins.


Air China Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Photo Credit: Karam Sodhi/AviationSource

It remains clear that this is a resurgence within China’s air travel, especially with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted.

All eyes will be on the plethora of carriers operating within the country to see whether this spike in demand can be sustained.

For now, the situation needs to be constantly monitored, especially if COVID makes another resurgence causing further lockdowns.

By James Field - Editor in Chief 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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