* March jet fuel exports up 77.4% on previous year * Diesel exports slip 1.7% * Gasoline shipments rise 50.9% * LNG imports rise 25.1% on lower prices BEIJING, April 18 (Reuters) - China's jet fuel exports in March surged to 1.98 million metric tons, up 77.4% from the previous year, as international flight volumes ramped up, General Administration of Customs data showed on Thursday. Domestic jet-kerosene demand continues to benefit from a fully recovered domestic travel market, with internal flight volumes already above pre-pandemic levels and expected to increase further. Domestic flight capacity in March rose 1.4% over the same period last year, with growth in jet fuel demand stimulated by a roughly 90% increase in international flight capacity from 2023, data from analytics firm OAG showed. China's aviation regulator expects international flight volumes to reach 80% of pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2024. Fuel provided to international flights is counted as an export in customs statistics.

Diesel exports, however, fell marginally in March, though refiners continued to ship significant volumes overseas amid tepid domestic fuel demand. Exports of diesel fuel, the refined oil product that makes up the biggest share of Chinese refinery output, slipped 1.7% to 1.42 million metric tons. Domestic diesel demand in China has faced considerable headwinds from the slowdown in the country's property sector and infrastructure construction. Much of the fuel is used to power large equipment such as excavators, cranes and earth-moving trucks.

Gasoline shipments last month rose to 1.15 million tons, up 50.9% from last year's 760,000 tons, the customs data showed. However, exports volumes for the first quarter were down 10.2% on the previous year, with domestic consumption boosted by strong travel demand over the Lunar New Year Holiday in February.

Domestic demand for gasoline is expected by international agencies to peak around 2024, while Sinopec previously said that domestic gasoline demand could have peaked in 2023 following the increased market penetration of electric vehicles. Regional refining margins fell last month, averaging around $6 per barrel in March versus $8.20 per barrel in February. China's refinery runs in March rose from the previous month to 15.02 million barrels per day (bpd).

The data on Thursday also showed China imported 6.65 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in March, up 25.1% on the previous year because of lower international prices. The imports were the highest since January 2022. Prices of LNG for Asia at the end of March were down 26.9% from the same period last year, and down 47% from their recent high in October 2023. Exports in metric tons: Exports March y/y % Jan-Mar y/y % change change Gasoline 1,150,000 50.9% 2,720,000 -10.2% Jet fuel 1,980,000 77.4% 4,800,000 24.0% Diesel 1,420,000 -1.7% 2,640,000 -55.9% Import March y/y % Jan-Mar y/y % change change LNG 6,650,000 25.1% 19,780,000 20.8% (Reporting by Andrew Hayley; Editing by Chrstian Schmollinger)