China Focus: Big drop expected in post-festival trips amid epidemic

The volume of passenger trips during the remaining days of this year's Spring Festival travel rush may drop about 70 percent from last year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, an official said Thursday.

Around 400 million passenger trips are expected to be made before Feb. 18, the end of the 40-day travel rush, said Cai Tuanjie, an official with the Ministry of Transport, at a press conference on the joint prevention and control of the epidemic.

As of Wednesday, the number of trips reached over 1.3 billion, down 35 percent from last year, but daily passenger traffic volume has averaged about 13 million since Jan. 29, a yearly decrease of over 80 percent, according to Cai.

Citing big data analysis, he pointed out that passenger flow is expected to stabilize and pick up around Feb. 9, adding that this year's returning trip period will last longer, with lower peak passenger flow than previous years but still higher than average days.

Around 6.5 million trips were made by air during the first seven days of the Spring Festival holiday, a drop of nearly half compared with the same period last year, Yu Biao, an official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said at the presser.

The total number of flights in the past week is nearly half that of the same period last year and the daily flight booking volume from Feb. 6 to 12 is only about 40 percent of that of the same period last year, according to Yu.

"Over 13 million plane tickets had been returned by Feb. 4," Yu said, adding that there would not be a returning travel peak as in previous years.

Nearly 2.4 million have traveled by train per day since the Spring Festival holiday, down nearly 80 percent from last year, said Huang Xin with the China Railway Group.

Huang said that passenger flow from Feb. 8 to 11 was relatively high, around 2 to 3 million per day and about one-fifth to one-quarter of the peak in previous years.

According to presale figures, the average number of rail passengers will be 600,000 per day in the next 30 days.

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