The first day of the October holiday travel season indicated that Chinese travellers are not afraid of flying, and their willingness to board planes so far defies predictions the nation's airlines would suffer losses as a result of last month's attacks in the United States. Largely because people on the mainland believe there is no way their own airlines could be hijacked as US planes were on September 11, many domestic flights were sold out yesterday, and the Beijing Capital Airport bulged with passengers. October 1 began China's National Day holiday, which the government arranged for the third year in a row as a week-long event to encourage travel and consumer spending. Yesterday, people with extra money or who were too late to book train tickets occupied every seat in the Beijing airport departure hall and many spots on the floor as they waited for planes. 'In general, it seems that Asians are viewing [the September 11 attacks] as being remote from the region, and certainly inter-Asian travel has not seen anything resembling the drastic decline in travel experienced in the US,' Tokyo-based International Air Transport Association official Tony Concil said. In the past three weeks US air travel has declined 43 per cent. Mainland national and regional airlines, all state-owned, added 1,376 flights for the holiday week to handle a 5 per cent increase in reservations, according to a People's Daily report. China Southern Airlines' flights to Australia, Japan, South Korea and Europe sold out before yesterday, the newspaper said. The airline reported high demand for US-bound flights. Yesterday, a Beijing duty manager with China CYTS Tours Online said all but the higher priced seats had sold out. At the China 2001 Aviation Expo in Beijing two weeks after planes hit the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, Boeing told state media that China would need 1,764 aircraft between now and 2020, becoming the world's second-biggest commercial air market after the US. However, news reports yesterday said Goldman Sachs had reduced profit estimates for China Southern and China Eastern airlines. Passengers consider flying as safe now as it was before the US terrorist attacks. A man stopping over in Beijing between Guilin and Harbin said he trusted mainland airport security more than that in the US. 'The security management is fine,' he said, pointing to a row of windows staffed by airline ticket sellers and their managers. 'Just look at all the people here.' State media indicated the government had stepped up security after the September 11 attacks. 'I am a little afraid, but flying is the fastest way,' admitted Xing Jihong, returning home to Qingdao from Xian. But, for her, convenience outweighed fear. She avoids trains, where it is hard to get tickets and then travel is crowded and stuffy. CYTS Online manager in Beijing Mi Xiaoyue said some first-time air travellers were frightened. 'There are people who have asked us about this,' Mr Mi said.