Chinese airlines are offering one-way tickets for less than the cost of a pint amid mass flight cancellations and unprecedented low travel numbers during the coronavirus outbreak.
Market forces driven by concerns over COVID-19 transmission have seen several major carriers slash domestic fares by up to 99 percent for the remainder of February and entirety of March.
Shenzhen Airlines, based in Guangdong Province in South China, is asking just 20 RMB (2.2 GBP) for a 2.5-hour one-way trip between Shenzhen and the south-western municipality of Chongqing.
According to international price index Numbeo, a pint of domestic beer costs an average of 3.8 GBP in the United Kingdom making the flights less than the cost of a pint.
Similarly, the carrier’s 1,000-mile flight from Shenzhen to Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan Province, costs between 50 and 150 RMB (5.5 and 16 .6GBP) for the full month of March.
However, prices return to 1,370 RMB (151 GBP) starting 1st April.
China’s largest low-cost carrier, Spring Airlines, is charging just 49 RMB (5.4 GBP) for flights between the eastern port city of Shanghai and Chongqing.
According to reports, airlines are under pressure and operating at low costs just to break even amid COVID-19 panic.
State-owned carriers are also being subsidised in order to stay afloat at a time of high cancellation and worrying low air travel figures.
In February, around 10,000 flights – or two-thirds of daily totals – are being cancelled every day, reports said.
This is despite China’s Civil Aviation Administration announcing a gradual resumption of air travel as industries and other business sectors restart in the country.
Earlier this month, the civil aviation authority had reported a 75-percent drop in air passengers between 25th January and 14th February when compared to the same time last year.
The reduced figures are also believed to be the result of countries suspending travel to and from mainland China, with British Airways halting flights until at least Easter in mid-April.
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