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High flight prices irk holiday travelers

By ZHU LIXIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-16 08:51

Tourists experience the local bamboo dance with residents of Maona village, Hainan province, on Wednesday, in celebration of Spring Festival. GUO CHENG/ XINHUA

With the eight-day Spring Festival holiday drawing to an end, some tourists to South China's Hainan province are discovering their return journeys are more expensive than they expected.

Many tourists have complained on social media that the prices for flights leaving the province have surged to unbearable highs, China Radio International reported on Thursday.

Several airlines have said their economy-class tickets for the last three days of the holiday, from Thursday to Saturday, had almost sold out, and that there were limited seats still available in business class.

While not an issue for those that have already booked their return journeys, the tourists yet to book their flights have been left with some tough choices.

"When I came to Sanya, the air ticket cost me only about 1,000 yuan ($139). But now, to my great surprise, I have to spend more than 10,000 yuan for a return ticket," said tourist Juan'er in a post online.

"Such an expense is enough to cover a journey to Europe, so I decided to book an earlier ticket," a tourist surnamed Zhou from Beijing told thecover.cn, a news outlet based in Sichuan province.

Hainan's tourism and transportation authorities said the rush of tourists returning home from the island will continue until Monday next week.

According to multiple agents selling tickets for flights departing Hainan, the prices remain high until Saturday, the last day of the holiday.

The number of tourists visiting Hainan over the Spring Festival break has increased by 30 percent for the same period year-on-year, according to the island's tourism and transportation authorities.

Hainan's busiest tourism spot Sanya had 215,400 tourists booked into its hotels for Feb 10, Lunar New Year's Day, according to the city government.

Li Sixing, a manager at Sanya airport, said it had told airlines to use more wide-body airplanes for their flights to accommodate more passengers.

"While we are trying to increase airlines' carrying capacity, we suggest tourists leave from Haikou if by air," Zhou Xinghua, an official with the provincial department of tourism, culture, radio, television and sport, told China Central Television on Thursday morning.

Haikou airport said its passenger flow volume for Friday is expected to surpass 120,000.

Zhou Xinghua also suggested leaving the island by boat as a possible alternative to flying.

To mitigate the strong demand for flights home, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has approved the increase in transportation capacity for Hainan, and airlines are currently submitting their plans, the CAAC said.

Hainan has not been the only destination to experience a travel bump during the Spring Festival break.

Data from travel platform Qunar shows that flights during the holiday booked from 186 small airports, those of third- or lower-tier cities across the country, had increased by nearly 200 percent year-on-year.

Among them, Foshan airport in Guangdong province had the highest growth with an increase in ticket bookings by more than 7 times compared to the year before.

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