With headlines dominated by Covid-19, we’ve spent what feels like an eternity in an innate survival mode; focussed on protecting loved ones and society’s vulnerable, we’re getting our fill of news updates and the latest government health guidelines to help flatten the curve.

 

There’s a sense of unity in reaching the post-pandemic horizon. So, to help us focus, it’s important to know that it’s comparatively close and that China is already there, steadily getting back on its feet after the crisis there has abated.

 

A recent webinar with our outstanding friends at OAG (the world’s leading provider of travel data and insight) this week, brought the Chinese recovery into sharp focus and left us hungry for European green shoots. OAG used years of data analysis to show how coronavirus has driven air traffic down and then back up in a wave moving east to west.

With up to a quarter of Asian flights dependent on Chinese passenger traffic, China started to limit flights as Covid-19 hit and capacity across the region slowed; by mid-February, China had cut almost 70% of scheduled flights compared to the same time in 2019 – that’s a huge drop.

Europe started to reduce air traffic in the middle of March and is mirroring China’s position of a month ago. The UK, Germany, Italy and Spain have all slashed flight capacity by around 70% and most planes flying are now moving cargo instead of people.

What’s interesting is that while this is all happening in Europe and is about to start in North America, China and parts of SE Asia have quietly seen an enormous leap towards normality. Over half of Chinese flight capacity has already returned and overseas border closures are probably the main constraints on the rest. South Korea (another large player locally) is coming back too – Europe won’t be far behind.

Why is this important?

Flight capacity is a barometer of international activity. When capacity is high, economic growth tends to follow; when it’s low or curtailed, it reflects the opposite. A large-scale return of Chinese air capacity is a massive indicator that the Chinese economy is returning towards some form of normality.

What it shows is that whilst we dig in and adhere to the necessary guidelines and restrictions for all of the right reasons, there are already signs of healthy life in the east and we can expect to see the same in Europe in a matter of weeks.

We shouldn’t underestimate the healthcare crisis, nor how it needs to be the priority for us all. There will be lasting repercussions across all levels of human society that we are only beginning to experience. But perhaps we should be encouraged that China is demonstrating that economic recovery is possible.

Normality might take a little longer but we’re already seeing brands starting to revamp, rebuild and realign their propositions ready for customers’ return. Those customers will be expecting more from businesses across the travel, insurance and airline sectors – those that are starting now are in pole position to prove their worth.

Here’s to everyone making swift and full recoveries.

About Blink

Blink designs data-driven travel disruption insurance solutions and parametric insurance product innovation, transforming clients’ complex offerings into superior service experiences with simple, intuitive, online products in sectors such as Travel, Climate, Energy and IoT.

Blink uses cloud based, microservices and globally scalable technical architecture driven by an innovative API systems platform allowing for complex architecture to be filtered into simple processes, that are agile, adaptable and fully customised.

Based in Cork, Ireland, Blink was acquired by CPP Group Plc in 2017. It made TheINSURTECH100 for 2019, an annual list of the worlds’ most innovative InsurTech companies and has experienced significant growth over the last 24 months, with insurance partners throughout Europe, Asia and North America.