Aviation, train service providers offer free ticket refunds amid domestic flare-ups
Published: Mar 14, 2022 09:52 PM
This file photo taken on Aug. 28, 2014 shows a China Eastern Airlines plane taking off. (Photo: Xinhua)

This file photo taken on Aug. 28, 2014 shows a China Eastern Airlines plane taking off. (Photo: Xinhua)

Some domestic aviation service providers have started offering free ticket refunds as part of the recent measures to rein the spread of the epidemic amid China's ramped-up virus preventative efforts to control new flare-ups in a number of cities and provinces.

In the face of the sporadic outbreaks in several parts of China, transportation service providers are scrambling to implement measures to reduce traffic flow to limit the risk of the virus spreading further. Analysts predicted the epidemic could bring about substantial hit to civil aviation industry.

Some flight ticket agencies have reportedly received notification from China Eastern Airlines that passengers who bought the domestic tickets before March 20 and the flight period is between Monday and April 17 do not need to pay for ticket refunds , news website reported on Monday.

This came in tandem with the notice from rail authorities on Monday that, in accordance with the notice, passengers who bought train tickets before midnight Tuesday will not be charged for ticket refunds.

A free refund and change policy for flights and rail trips is not new. Such paralleled measures were used during the travel rush period such as the Chinese New Year holiday in 2020 and 2021.

Other flights are likely to offer a similar free refund policy soon, analysts said.

With China Eastern Airlines' reported move to cancel and change bookings for free, other companies will likely follow suit, Wang Yanan, a senior industry analyst, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that airlines have struggled throughout the epidemic.

Due to the current lack of demand and the increasing cost of aviation fuel, almost no domestic airlines were able to record a profit in March. 

Airlines including China Eastern Airlines, Juneyao Air and other Shanghai-based airlines have been losing money for two consecutive years during the epidemic, according to media reports.

While the strict but necessary epidemic prevention will have a disproportionate impact on the aviation industry, further ignited by the global oil price surge, this is the time for aviation service providers to display a  sense of responsibility, so that there will be a faster chance for the industry to recover, analysts said.