Fares jump on China-US air routes after US eases travel ban for Chinese students
Published: Apr 28, 2021 09:48 PM
A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 13 in Burlingame, California. Photo: VCG

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport in Burlingame, California. Photo: VCG

Fares and demand for flights from China to the US skyrocketed overnight after the US eased travel bans on Chinese students on Monday, data showed on Wednesday. 

More flights between the two countries could be arranged in the future due to the surging demand, though potential arrangements might need to be reciprocal, analysts said.

Following the US announcement, both fares and demand for China-US air routes surged fivefold in just one day, according to a note sent to the Global Times by Chinese online travel agency platform Qunar. 

The number of flight tickets from China to the US sold on Tuesday was five times higher than the number on Monday, Qunar said in the note.  

A customer service representative from the online travel agency said on Wednesday that all direct flights from Beijing to New York and Shanghai to New York during the peak season (July and August) have sold out and the remaining ones are mainly transfer flights via Hong Kong.

"Students who have been present in China are now exempted from COVID-related travel restrictions… if they are otherwise eligible, these students may be issued visas," the US Embassy in China announced in a press release on Wednesday.

Following the US announcement, many students and parents rushed to book tickets, resulting in a shortage of tickets, according to a Shanghai mother of a sophomore studying at the University of Southern California, who is in a group chat with other parents.

The mother told the Global Times that parents are mostly seeking direct flights from China to the US or flights transferring in Hong Kong. A one-way fare from Shanghai to a city in California could cost as much as 26,000 yuan ($4,008), she added. 

In the past, the demand for flights for Chinese students in the US returning to China was large, whereas now the demand for flights to the US is increasing, Qi Qi, a market watcher, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that the number of flights from China to the US might increase during the peak season depending on demand. 

The US usually requires reciprocal flight arrangements with China, so the number of flights from the US to China would increase if more flights are arranged to fly to the US, according to Qi, adding that the situation would also depend on how the US contains the virus. If the risk remains low, the number of flights might increase, Qi said.  

China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the US to make proper arrangements for Chinese citizens to visit the US and create favorable conditions for resuming personnel exchanges between China and the US.

China is also coordinating on receiving foreign students in China for academic programs on the premise of ensuring safety against the COVID-19 epidemic, and will work with relevant parties to jointly promote in-person exchanges with the international community, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the ministry, said at a routine press conference on Wednesday.