China starts National Day holidays with epic passenger travel peak
China on Thursday entered its eight-day National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays. With COVID-19 under firm control, Chinese people hit the road, with expressways, air routes and railways ushering in passenger travel peak.
A total of 14,941 civil aviation flights are scheduled on Thursday, and expected to carry about 1.67 million passenger trips. The data has resumed to generally the same level comparing to last October 1, China Central Television CCTV reported, citing information from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Beijing Daxing International Airport scheduled 665 flights on Thursday with passenger throughput expected to exceed 95,000, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the airport. And airlines have prepared extra flights in order to accommodate the travel peak. China Eastern added 1,644 flights, with its total flights scheduled for the holidays reaching 24,202 and its transport capacity resuming to the same level as last year.
China's expressways witnessed heavy traffic jams since Wednesday, a day before the holidays. With many passengers stuck on the road, the hashtag how jammed the highway is has hit the hot topic list on China's Twitter-like social media platform Weibo since Wednesday afternoon. Netizens are sharing pictures of roads packed with cars that can hardly move.
"We took off a day earlier in order to avoid traffic congestion, however, we could hardly raise the speed of our car most of the time," Chen Sasha, a Shanghai resident who is still on the way from Shanghai to Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province with her family, told the Global Times on Thursday.
A Beijing resident named Jiao Ning spent nearly twice the time than usual to go back to her hometown in Hebei Province. "We took off at 7 pm on Wednesday and arrived at 4:30 am next day, and generally it only took 4.5 to 5 hours," Jiao told the Global Times.
"It's like the Spring Festival travel season," she said.
Even Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing encountered technical failure on Wednesday, with its big data department earlier estimated that the day would be the toughest day to hail a ride within the year.
After months of strict epidemic prevention, China has effectively brought the virus under control. The country has been free of locally transmitted cases in the past six weeks, and the possibility of coming across asymptomatic carriers remains extremely low during traveling in the holidays, media reports said, citing Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.