Expanding industry, declining trafficThe arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 severely disrupted global aviation operations, and the Chinese civil aviation industry was no exception—as evidenced by the decline in key performance indicators for traffic handling. Total revenue in 2020 decreased by 41 percent year-over-year to 624.7 billion yuan. During the same year, the aviation sector in China registered a total profit loss of 94.7 billion yuan. In addition, passenger traffic fell 37 percent year-over-year to 418 million in 2020, and the volume of cargo and mail handled in that year dropped 10 percent from the prior year to 6.8 million metric tons.
Despite the significant decrease in traffic, China's civil aviation industry continued to expand. By the end of 2020, China's civil aircraft fleet increased to 6,795 aircraft, and the number of licensed pilots rose to nearly 69,500. China has been relying on the domestic market to drive the recovery of its civil aviation industry, with the number of domestic flight routes increasing to 4,686 routes in 2020.