SHANGHAI, July 13 — Over 150,000 people had enjoyed their flights under the “fly at will” air ticket discount package rolled out by China Eastern Airlines (also known as China Eastern) during the past two weekends.
As the first-ever air ticket discount package launched in China that allows passengers to enjoy unlimited weekend flights till December 31, the “fly at will” released on June 18 was priced at 3,322 yuan (about $473.72). The product has been especially welcomed by backpackers and migrant workers. Some netizens even call it “a godsend for long-distance relationship”.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has been effectively brought under control in the China, 150,000 passengers flew to enjoy holidays or visit their family by using the ticket package, which has become a hot topic and a phenomenal economic activity in China.
The average passenger load factor of the China Eastern flights from Shanghai to more than ten destinations rose by nearly 20 percent, with the figure of some flights even surpassing 90 percent. Some popular flights have seen the proportion of “fly at will” passengers exceed 90 percent. Although the company has dispatched wide-body aircrafts like B777 and A350 to the hot flights, it still cannot fully meet passengers’ growing travel demands.
The ground-breaking move has also caused social discussion. Jeff Yu, a partner in the Beijing office of consultancy Roland Berger, said that the most noteworthy part of the “fly at will” is not only the pricing or business model, but the actual test data, for which will help provide valuable insights into and support for the full recovery of the aviation field.
With the “fly at will” filling a market void and driving travel demands, China Eastern is called a “pathfinder” and “wind vane” by industry insiders and media. There are by far over 20,000 pieces of news reports on the product published by more than 1,000 media outlets. Putting aside the profits and losses, “fly at will” is already a very successful product for its topicality and the publicity, pointed out Xiong Wei, a PhD candidate majoring in aviation law at McGill University.
Other airlines in China have launched similar products following “fly at will”. On June 21, China Express launched a similar air ticket packages. On July 1, Hainan Airlines announced that its 12 airline companies will jointly launch an air ticket package with limited destinations.
China Eastern hopes that its “fly at will” can help boost businesses in tourism and hospitality, so that relevant industries can tide over the tough time together, said an executive of the service department of China Eastern. As the COVID-19 pandemic causes a marked impact on economy, a popular ticket package may lead to more positive results in consumption in relevant fields, said Xiong, noting that the social benefits of “fly at will” is already far beyond the profits it can get for the company.