Air Traffic Data Shows Signs of a Comeback: First Green Shoots Appear in China

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The pandemic winter for aviation has passed. The first green shoots are out.

This data story featuring Asia, is the first from the four part Spire Aviation world series.

Travel lockdown wiped out demand for global air travel. The first travel restrictions were enforced in China. Spire Aviation data focuses on specific geo locations for a deeper, more granular look. Data shows how empty the skies were on Apr 25th compared to Jan 25th. The number of aircraft flying in the region plummeted 51% between the same dates and dropped from 8,937 in January to just 4,378 in April.

Air traffic over Asia viewed within specific coordinates on 25 Jan 2020 (left) and 25 Apr 2020 (right)

Spire Aviation data caught the decline and continues to chart the gradual upswing in the coming months. Huge portions of airline fleets were grounded across this timeline. Airline activity hit rock bottom around week-7. The three largest airlines in China grounded the majority of their fleet during this period and especially during the periods soon after the lockdown.

Number of flights by the three largest Chinese airlines per week (Jan-May 2020) including China Eastern, China Southern Airlines, Air China

Number of flights by the three largest Chinese airlines per week (Jan-May 2020)

It was a deadly winter for aviation, which saw all airlines severely impacted. Data now shows the darkest hour has passed and we now see the first green shoots to a long recovery.

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