Flying to China a pricey option for Richmondites

While some airfares are plummeting due to the pandemic, some members of the Chinese-Canadian community in Richmond are finding the cost of a flight back to their homeland has spiralled upwards.

A ticket to China is now coming in at anything between $7,000 and $8,000.

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And even if you are able to splash the cash, there are many challenges booking them online, according to Mabel Wu, a Richmond-based travel agent.

“You need to be quick and patient enough to wait in front of your laptops to grab those tickets as soon as they are available online. Otherwise, they could be gone within a second,” said Wu.
China has placed restrictions on air travel with other countries to allay concerns over COVID-19 infections. 

A new rule, dubbed the “Five-One policy,” limits all domestic airlines from China to one international flight per week to each country and foreign carriers can fly into China no more than once per week, according to a notice issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

“For example, China Eastern Airlines, one of those carriers headquartered in China, could allow travel from China to Vancouver and Toronto before the new policy was put in place. But now they could only fly from China to Toronto. The reduced flights made it more difficult for travelers to find tickets to China,” explained Wu. 

Meanwhile, several foreign airlines are now seeking to resume flights into China, such as Air Canada, which plans to resume services to mainland China in August this year. 

“But details haven’t been confirmed yet and the policy might change from time to time,” added Wu. 

Stories about Chinese international students facing a dilemma to fly home are also being reported in the Chinese-state run media. 

“Hui Li, a first-year student with the University of Georgia, isn’t able to continue her studying due to COVID-19. Li initially decided to temporarily return to China to save some money due to the high living expenses there...But she had to give up the plan after finding all tickets were higher than $8,000, which she couldn’t afford,” a translation of an article reads, published in

Mabel said it’s understandable that some people have urgent matters to return to China, such as some family members who are old and need caring.

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