Airfares skyrocketed after Hong Kong quarantine rules were eased

China: As Hong Kong eases its pandemic rules, online searches for flights to popular destinations such as Bangkok and Osaka have jumped tenfold, prompting an increase in airfares.

The Hong Kong government on Monday reduced hotel quarantine times for inbound travelers from seven days to three, as well as four days of "home medical surveillance" with restricted movement, said Danwi Low, 41, head of talent acquisition at a city firm Said, she said she struggled to find cheap flights.

Lo said she hopes to use up her air miles on travel to Japan or London before the end of the year, when she sits down at her computer shortly after the quarantine period ends.

However, she clarified that some flights were "ridiculously expensive", while others were booked solely for redemption of air miles.

It costs HK$12,000 [US$1,529] to get to Tokyo's Narita Airport. There are no flights into London. It's so absurd. I would research alternative locations or use a different airline," Low said.

He insisted that he had previously spent between HK$3,000 and HK$4,000 on a trip to Tokyo.

 

According to Jebsen Travel, a well-known city travel agency, the least expensive round-trip Cathay Pacific economy class fare from Hong Kong to London was HK$17,000 in August, up 41% from the minimum of HK$12,000 in June and July.

A round-trip economy ticket on the airline to the British capital can cost up to HK$41,000 in June and July.

An economy class round-trip ticket from Cathay to Hong Kong for London for the following Tuesday, Thursday or Friday could cost up to 35,000 Hong Kong dollars, according to a check made by the Post on Wednesday night.

On Saturdays and Sundays, economy round-trip tickets were less expensive but still over HK$23,000.

The average cost of a round-trip economy class ticket on Emirates flights via Bangkok and Dubai rose 36% to HK$13,200 in August, compared to around HK$9,700 in June and July.

 

According to Jebsen, the high demand resulted in flights being fully booked.

According to the travel agency, the cost of a round-trip economy class ticket on Cathay from Hong Kong to New York rose 10% in August, from an average of HK$12,000 in June and July to a minimum of HK$13,200.

In August, the airline's maximum fare for return travel in economy class was HK$28,000.

According to data from analytics firm Cirium, the average price of a flight from Hong Kong to London in May was HK$7,973, which includes taxes and fees.

The company also found that the normal fare between New York and Hong Kong in May was HK$10,061 (at no extra charge).

Following the easing of quarantine policy, Fannie Yeung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, predicted a 20-30% increase in Hong Kong traveling abroad.

But she continued to urge an end to the quarantine requirements to revive the travel sector.

Yeung emphasized a possible adjustment in residents to Hong Kong's travel habits and suggested that people may prefer to take longer journeys to "justify" the quarantine period.

We have seen a few visits to Japan in the last 20 days, which is interesting. The 45-day event was the longest I had planned. Due to the pandemic and quarantine requirements, perhaps this is a unique pattern, she suggested.

Information from international online travel agency Expedia showed that both Osaka and Bangkok saw a 1,000% increase in flight searches on their platforms over the past week.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, saw an increase of about 90% and inquiries increased by almost 50% in Singapore.

Expedia saw a three-fold increase in outbound flight searches in the first 24 hours after the government announced quarantine changes, compared to a day earlier.

According to an Expedia spokesperson, the increase reflected the city's significant demand for international travel.

 

Compared to last Sunday, the day before the announcement , outbound  flights from the platform increased by 176%, and Hong Kong users viewing outbound flights increased by 184%, according to Eddie Yip, on travel to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The e-commerce lead website for Trip.com.

As a longtime favorite of Hong Kong tourists, popular Southeast Asian destinations such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are the focus of Yip's first strategy.

The abundance of flights to these places can accommodate Hong Kongers looking to restart their travels, especially those who may consider a short trip as their first trip.

Club Med, the operator of a chain of resorts, claimed that after the new quarantine rules were announced, it had started advertising its packages.

According to an email newsletter obtained by the Post, resorts are being promoted in Phuket, Thailand and Bali, Indonesia.

According to Club Med general manager Stuart de Bourgogne, the company's website traffic increased eightfold on the day the quarantine reduction was announced for the Hong Kong and Taiwan markets, levels of interest the company had not seen since February 2020.

He added that Phuket, the Maldives, and Japanese ski resorts had been the most popular locations since Monday.

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