On Tuesday, China Southern rolled out its “Fly Happily” pass, giving passengers access to unlimited flights for a period of four and a half months at the price of $528. It joins several other Chinese carriers in promoting “all you can fly” deals as a means of rebooting air travel post-pandemic.
We have always known we were going to see some unanticipated changes as airlines try to survive through, and recover from, this unprecedented crisis. However, that they would be promoting “all you can fly” packages, few saw coming.
In a move attempting to reboot a post-COVID commercial aviation sector, several Chinese carriers have engaged in a promotional drive with deals priced around $500 for unlimited flights.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
One of them is China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest carrier in numbers of passengers. The airline’s “Fly Happily” pass, released Tuesday, allows customers to book as many flights as they want for 3,699 yuan ($528). The deal is valid between August 26th and January 6th.
China Eastern has sold 100,000 passes
At least eight of China’s carriers have introduced similar deals since last month. China Eastern released its “Fly as you wish” promotion in June. The deal is priced at 3,322 yuan ($476) but is only valid for flights on weekends. Meanwhile, the carrier is reported to have sold over 100,000 passes. And, since it was launched, it has helped boost passenger loads on such days to over 75% the past few weeks.
Hainan Airlines has a similar arrangement for only 2,699 yuan ($386). However, the pass is only valid for flights in and out of the Hainan Province. On all of the flights mentioned above, pass holders are still required to pay a small tax, about 50 yuan ($7).
Over the past 30 days, domestic flights in China have recovered to about 80% of pre-COVID levels. The world is now watching to see how recovery will bounce back, and what measures will work in helping it along the way.
Could it be replicated in other markets?
Could we see similar “all you can fly” promotions in other markets as well, as the spread of the virus begins to abate? Or is it a boost that works specifically in the vast Chinese domestic market?
“I’m going to Changsha this weekend and Guangzhou the next weekend,” a Shanghai-based insurance professional just back from an eight-day trip in the country’s northwest using the China Eastern pass told Reuters.
“The experiences are great,” she continued. “I would not be flying this much if it weren’t for this pass.”
If filling the otherwise empty seats are enough to off-set the costs of such programs over an extended period of time remains to be seen. But perhaps the Chinese carriers are on to something. While many analysts have predicted that airline tickets will become more expensive in the foreseeable future, it won’t hurt to keep your eyes open for potential all-you-can-fly promotions from your local airline.
Would you opt for a deal with unlimited flying for a fixed price? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.