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February 20, 2020

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Airlines offer charter flights to fly out stranded employees

MULTIPLE domestic airlines have begun promoting charter flight services to help companies transport their employees back to work while reducing infection risks during the ongoing novel coronavirus epidemic.

About 180 employees from Kunming in Yunnan Province returned to work for their companies in Zhejiang Province yesterday, after taking the first such charter flight arranged by Spring Airlines.

The employees took flight 9C8828 to Shanghai and then took coaches to their workplaces in Wuxing District of Huzhou.

The human resources bureau of Wuxing invited the airline to offer the service after many local companies complained that staff could not return to work due to the suspension of most public transport.

Many workers at two of the district’s key companies, manufacturers of pipeline and aluminum products, live in remote areas of Honghe, Qujing and Wenshan in Yunnan.

The Shanghai-based budget carrier has made full safety preparations for such flights. Each passenger must receive temperature checks before boarding, in the air and after landing.

They also have to register on a mobile app to provide information about their health condition, according to the carrier.

The filtration system on a passenger aircraft can refresh the air in the cabin every three minutes, which is safer than other public transport options in terms of virus prevention, the airline said.

On Tuesday, several other cities in Zhejiang, such as Jiaxing, also organized chartered airplanes to bring more than 300 workers from Sichuan Province and Yunnan back to work.

Over a dozen domestic carriers started promoting similar flight services targeted at businesses.

These include China Eastern, China Southern, Juneyao, Fuzhou, Shandong, China Express and Xiamen airlines.

China’s airline industry has been hit hard by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak.

The number of flights at domestic airports on Tuesday, which marked the end of this year’s Spring Festival travel rush, was down about 80 percent compared with previous years.

Business observers say the charter flights are a way for airlines to shore up losses, while also helping to get China’s economy back on track.


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