Airlines Battle for Weekly Quota of 25,000 邊境鬆綁每週限2.5萬旅客入境 名額搶破頭

The Central Epidemic Command Center recently loosened border restrictions, but capped the weekly number of inbound travelers at 25,000. This resulted in an all-out battle between airlines to secure quotas. 

The international departures terminal at Songshan International Airport is virtually empty, with only a few travelers scattered around in the waiting area. A look at the international departures sign board shows that the only flight departing that day is an 11:30 a.m. flight to Japan's Haneda Airport. Many countries have eliminated border restrictions, but the number of flights hasn't returned to the previous level. Airfare has also become more expensive, dampening the desire for travel.

Resident: “I bought the ticket in March, so it wasn't too bad then. I had to change a flight once in the middle because my first flight was delayed by six hours, so it was a bit more inconvenient.”

Resident: “It took so long to loosen restrictions and I couldn't get the times I wanted, so I decided not to take them.”

Many people are taking a wait and see approach. The Central Epidemic Command Center recently loosened the inbound quarantine requirement to "3+4." However, it capped the weekly number of inbound travelers at 25,000, leading to a battle between airlines for quotas. There are reports that people are stranded in Shanghai because they haven't been able to buy tickets to return to Taiwan and they will need to wait until at least mid-July for flights to return. Some travel agents attributed this to airlines needing to conform to Shanghai's disease prevention policies.

Chen Chien-chin, Travel Agent: “China's method is more special, because of their zero COVID policy. For example, some travelers in Shanghai wanted to come back yesterday. However, flights from Shanghai have been successively canceled since the beginning of June. There are virtually no flights from either Pudong International Airport or Hongqiao International Airport. There's only one flight out of Shanghai, which is a China Airlines flight on July 14, but it may be canceled too. You'll be given an advance notice of five to seven days so that you have time to adjust any later flights.”

Travel agents say flights to and from China are primarily carrying business travelers and students. A 737 aircraft only has about 180 seats, and flights aren't daily so people are finding it difficult to get seats regardless of the class. Airlines will release seats if someone cancels.