How Chinese airlines are luring back travelers

How Chinese airlines are luring back travelers

(CNN) – From offering tickets at the price of a vegetable to multi-seat discounts, Chinese airlines are launching a series of offers to attract travelers as Labor Day approaches – the first major holiday since the nation stopped due to Covid19.

By recording a loss of RMB 39.8 billion ($ 5.6 billion) in the first quarter of 2020, according to the China Civil Aviation Administration, the country’s aviation industry is taking its first steps towards recovery as the locking measures are released.

Resumption of old routes, addition of new flights

“With government policy to restart works and factories, domestic flights are slowly resuming and the Chinese civil aviation market is starting to warm up again,” analyst at VariFlight, a data services company, told CNN Travel. aeronautics based in China.

“On the other hand, due to the large-scale spread of the virus abroad as well as international flight restrictions, international routes are still showing a downward trend. Recovering from international routes may require more time . “

According to VariFlight data, airline operations in mainland China fell by more than 80% between the end of January and February.

Domestic flights started to rebound in mid-February and, as of this week, have reached almost half of the pre-Covid 19 levels.

As a further sign of the market recovery, regional carriers, including Guizhou Airlines, Air Guilin and Hainan Airlines, are all adding new domestic routes for the summer and fall seasons in anticipation of passenger demand.

“Bok choy-price” and “Magic Box” tickets

For now, airlines are focusing on the next Labor Day vacation, May 1-5.

Some airlines offer far-fetched deals – nicknamed “bok choy prices” by local media because they are as cheap as vegetables – on national routes to attract travelers.

Research on Fliggy, one of the main online travel booking platforms in China, indicates that a ticket from Beijing to Yantai in Shandong Province (about 700 kilometers away) in June costs only RMB 80 ( $ 11) – approximately 90% reduction compared to its usual price. price.
According to financial reporting site STCN.com, Shenzhen Airlines offered flights from Shenzhen to Chengdu for a staggering 5 RMB ($ 0.7) in early March.

Unlike a normal coupon, these magic boxes can only be unlocked for two specific periods during the fourth quarter of this year and can be exchanged for national tickets at any price.

Less fanciful but also economical, West Air and Urumqi Air offer discounted tickets, while Air Changan and Hainan Airlines sell several package flights.

Anti-coronavirus flight plans

Although aviation is recovering, the Covid-19 pandemic has also had a lasting impact on the way airlines sell seats, with carriers trying to provide travelers with peace of mind.

For example, China Express has been offering multi-seat options to passengers since February. Thanks to these offers, customers get six empty seats for the price of one economy class seat, which allows them to maintain their distance from other passengers.

The ticket price includes specific coronavirus insurance and an antivirus pack with face masks and antibacterial wipes.

Xiamen Airlines, China Eastern and West Air also sell additional seats to passengers at a discount.

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