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Chinese airlines' coronavirus woes pile pressure on airports

Government efforts to save carriers add to pressure on the ground

A man in a protective suit disinfects the cabin of a Hainan Airlines flight at Haikou Meilan International Airport in China's Hainan Province on Feb. 7.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China's state-owned airlines have all reported sharp falls in passenger numbers and aircraft movements, hurting both their own operations and those of airport operators, as fallout from the coronavirus outbreak continues to batter the aviation industry.

The big three airlines -- China Eastern Airlines, Air China and China Southern Airlines -- have been hit almost equally by the virus, as indicated in passenger load factors. In February, the key industry metric fell to around 50%, from around 85% a year ago.

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