Flying to certain parts of China has just gotten a whole lot tougher for people flying from Vancouver.
Last week, China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) issued orders to suspend two regular flights from YVR.
As of Monday, Xiamen Airlines’ flight MF806 from Vancouver to Xiamen was suspended for two weeks, due to five passengers testing positive for COVID-19 on arrival.
Another flight, CA998 by Air China, flying from Vancouver to Zhengzhou, will be suspended starting from June 13 for four weeks after ten cases were confirmed on the flight in May.
While most countries are opening up, China is holding to its strict international flight restrictions as part of its effort to maintain a “dynamic zero-COVID” approach.
Airlines whose flights arrive in China with more than five COVID-19 positive cases will have that same inbound route suspended for two weeks. For ten or more cases, a four-week suspension will be imposed, according to CAAC.
In addition to the restrictions, Chinese authorities mandate a minimum 14-day quarantine plus seven days of health monitoring at home for returning travellers. The government has also paused issuing and renewing passports for non-urgent cross-border travel.
“Our industry has bottomed out,” said David Lin, president of GS Travel, a Richmond-based travel agency that used to cater to the Chinese market.
“It's been two years. We don’t get clients from China anymore.”
Lin said, with flights frequently being cancelled or suspended, Chinese people are staying put for fear of being stranded overseas.
What’s more, with reduced flights to China, ticket prices are skyrocketing, he added.
“Tickets cost over a thousand bucks now,” said Lin. “It further reduces people’s desire to travel.”
Given the situation, Lin has had to turn to new markets in Canada and Southeast Asia, where restrictions have eased.
However, these markets are not comparable to the high-volume Chinese market, he explained.
“Everyone was expecting an explosive growth as restrictions eased, but we haven’t seen that in Asian markets,” said Lin.
“I don’t have hope that our industry can quickly recover to the pre-pandemic level by the end of this year,” Lin said.