Chinese students will take Hainan Airlines chartered flights to resume courses in UK
Published: Sep 17, 2020 10:31 AM

A view of London Photo: VCG

Responding to demand from 23 universities in the UK, Hainan Airlines is arranging the first batch of chartered flights for Chinese students who wish to start or resume their studies in the UK amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a statement from Hainan Airlines on Wednesday, Chinese students enrolled at 23 British universities are eligible to take the flights. They are enrolled at the University of Manchester, University of York, University of Bristol and University of Leeds, among others. 

The first chartered flights - HU7953 and HU7963 - will take off from Southwest China's Chongqing and land in Manchester. The exact flight dates will fall between September 21 and 27, according to the statement.

British universities surveyed students by email and will give passenger lists to the airline. There is no other way to book such chartered flights. Hainan Airlines will call the listed Chinese students one by one to issue the tickets. 

According to an email from the University of Bristol sent to a Chinese student surnamed Shi in Beijing, seen by the Global Times on Thursday, the flights will operate from September 21 to November 11. 

The ticket price for economy class will be 11,880 yuan ($1,753) without tax, and the price for business class will be 32,880 yuan, several Chinese students heading to the UK told the Global Times. 

"I plan to take the chartered flight of Hainan Airlines in October. Some 60 to 70 percent of the students around me are planning to fly to their schools in the UK .., as they don't want to delay their graduation, even if another outbreak occurs during the winter as many have said," Wu Hao, a master's degree student at the University of York, told the Global Times. 

Hainan Airlines said a Boeing 787-9 will be used for the flights, but it declined to reveal the exact capacity. 

No COVID-19 test result is required to enter the UK, but passengers must undergo a 14-day self-quarantine when they arrive in the country, an instruction for Chinese students said on the airline's website. 

The Chinese Embassy in the UK and the municipal government of Chongqing are supporting the flights, according to the statement. 

On Thursday, the British Embassy in China told the Global Times that a new and fairer student visa system will be launched by the British government on October 5, which will allow Chinese students to submit their visa applications six months before their courses start - three months earlier than the past. 

The change will provide more flexibility for applicants to arrange trips to the UK amid the pandemic. 

Charlotte Day, UKVI Regional Director, Asia Pacific noted that the earlier opening of the new student visa system delivered a clear message: "The UK is open. We expect more Chinese students to come to the UK, to study in world-famous education institutions."

UCAS, Britain's university admissions service, said more than 12,000 students from China are due to arrive this autumn, a 23 percent increase from last year.

The pandemic has had a strong impact on Chinese students who plan to study abroad this year. On Wednesday, China's Ministry of Education announced the country is expanding enrollment for joint education programs with overseas colleges to take in qualified students who face difficulties in their plans to study abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will help certain students in need.