Coronavirus: China airline passenger numbers fall 84.5%

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Chinese airline passenger numbers slumped by 84.5% last month, highlighting the huge economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

China's aviation regulator said on Thursday that the drop has caused a 21bn yuan (£2.35bn) fall in revenue.

Earlier this week the Chinese government announced fresh measures to support its struggling carriers.

The global airline industry is facing a massive downturn in passenger numbers due to travel restrictions.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it will provide subsidies to Chinese airlines and give additional funding for international flights.

Take-off and landing charges are also being reduced to help carriers cut costs during the downturn, while airport infrastructure spending will be increased by 100bn yuan during 2020.

China was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak and has seen flights drastically cut inside the country as well as internationally since late January as the pandemic spreads across the globe.

China's biggest airlines include China Southern, China Eastern, Air China and Hainan Airlines. China is reportedly planning to take control of Hainan's parent company, HNA Group, and sell off its airline assets.

Chinese government officials recently took on key management roles at heavily-indebted HNA Group, according to the Financial Times.

Most international carriers have cancelled services to mainland China with several pushing these suspensions into April.

The airline industry was dealt another major blow on Thursday following US President Donald Trump's travel ban between the US and Europe, excluding the UK. This ban is likely to hit American and European airlines, more than Asian-based ones.

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