BEIJING - China's civil aviation sector handled over 54.2 million passenger trips in January, soaring 44.6 percent year-on-year, official data showed, as the country geared up for its busy travel peak during the Chinese New Year holiday.

According to China Central Television, the data indicated a 13.5 percent increase in the total number of passenger trips in January compared to the previous month.

Furthermore, the figures revealed that during the same period in 2019, passenger trips reached 107.9 percent of the pre-pandemic level. This positive trend signifies a promising indication of the ongoing recovery within the sector.

The end of the month also coincided with the start of China's 40-day-long Spring Festival travel rush, which officially began on 26th January, with 11.59 million passenger trips made via airliners during the first six days of this period, averaging 1.93 million per day, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Major Chinese airlines such as Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines saw improvements in key indicators, including passenger volume and seat occupancy rates during the month. Meanwhile, as China has continuously optimised its immigration administration policies and streamlined entry-exit measures, there was a notable surge in international travellers.

In January, the combined total of international passengers across China's six major airlines topped 4.1 million, representing a recovery to 73 percent of the level seen during the same period in 2019.

China's civil aviation administration expects the sector to handle a total of 80 million passenger trips during the Spring Festival travel rush, which will run until 5th March.