Hu Xiaocen, 37, a Shanghai native working in the southern city of Shenzhen, bought a 3,322-yuan (US$475) China Eastern Airlines travel package and used it to book two air tickets from Shanghai to Shenzhen.
“Due to the virus, I can’t travel as much as I used to, so I mainly just go home to visit my parents,” she said. “The China Eastern Airlines package is really beneficial to me.”
Consumer are waking up to a new world of domestic air travel. Multiple carriers are offering fare discounts, seat upgrades or even free tickets to get bums on seats.
It’s all part of a campaign to get an industry hard hit by coronavirus back in the air.
Shanghai-based Spring Airlines was the latest to join the rush to fare incentives. It is offering a 2,999-yuan package that covers all domestic routes, and is the first to put no time limit on frequency, dates or routes.
The coronavirus severely dented air travel. China Eastern’s loading factor in May was only about 65 percent, 20 percentage points down from a year earlier.
In the first quarter, the carrier reported a loss of 4 billion yuan on 15.4 billion yuan of revenue. Squeezing its bottom are the 47 billion yuan of short-term bonds that mature this year.
Industrywide, domestic airlines suffered a loss of 33.6 billion yuan in the first quarter, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China. To date, no Chinese carriers have suffered the bankruptcies declared by some foreign airlines.
Lin Zhijie, a researcher in the civilian aviation industry, said low-cost travel packages won’t solve cash flow pressures but are at least a move to stop the hemorrhaging.
Han Liang, a Shanghai white-collar worker, just returned from a trip to Hainan Island. In a bit of bad luck,