(Recasts with domestic flight market recovery)
BEIJING, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The number of domestic Chinese flights in September topped last year’s levels, official data showed on Thursday, with passenger numbers indicating the local aviation sector is nearing a full recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were a total of 371,000 domestic passenger flights in September, up 3.5% from a year ago, Qiao Yibin, an official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, told a news conference.
Domestic passenger numbers reached 47.75 million, or 98% of 2019’s levels, Qiao said.
China’s domestic travel a robust rebound over the eight-day Golden Week holiday at the start of October, encouraged by the country’s success in reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and cheap fares offered by hotels, airlines and tourist hotspots.
Airlines have recently rolled out promotional deals featuring all-you-can fly packages to fuel a recovery in Chinese passenger numbers, though based on lower fares than the prior year.
Still, because of the drag from the international market, where China has limited flights to contain the spread of COVID-19, the total number of domestic and international flights in September rebounded only to 84% of 2019’s levels, CAAC’s Qiao said. (Reporting by Stella Qiu and Jamie Freed; editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger)
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