Airfares from South Korea to China shoot up amid Covid-19 fears

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    Source : SCMP

    Airfares from South Korea to China have spiked amid a growing coronavirus outbreak on the southern half of the Korean peninsula, travel agency websites show.

    A one-way ticket from Seoul to Qingdao, the port city in China’s eastern Shandong province that is about a 90-minute flight from the South Korean capital, has gone up at least fourfold for travel this week, compared with the typical fare. A one-way ticket from Seoul to Yanji, a hub for transport and trade between China and North Korea, has increased by the same multiple.

    “The airfare surge is partly due to recent flight cancellations. The one-way trip from Seoul to Qingdao usually costs 400 to 500 yuan (US$57-71), but I think a growing number of Chinese workers in South Korea are trying to get back to China as soon as possible,” said a manager at the Chinese online travel agency Ctrip who declined to give her name.

    There are more than 300 direct flights between Seoul and Qingdao each week and about 100 between Yanji and Seoul.

    As ticket prices between the two countries increase, there have been rampant rumours on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that South Koreans are fleeing to China because of the coronavirus outbreak in their country.

    The Qingdao government issued a statement on Monday that the municipality would restrict the entry of foreign nationals, but did not name South Korea.

    “We will strengthen risk assessment and port quarantine, strictly implement airport screening and home isolation for people arriving in Qingdao. We will do our best to explain to foreign nationals and resolutely prevent the spread of the epidemic,” the statement said.

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