Car­ri­ers plan in­no­va­tive mea­sures to stay afloat

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese car­ri­ers are adopt­ing var­i­ous in­no­va­tive mea­sures to in­crease their rev­enue and stay afloat amid dif­fi­cul­ties due to the COVID-19 epi­demic.

Shang­hai-based China Eastern Air­lines, known for its tasty in-flight meals, is plan­ning to sell boxed food at chain su­per­mar­ket G-Su­per in Shang­hai from this month.

It will be the first time that an air­ca­ter­ing firm is sell­ing food at su­per­mar­kets in China. The avail­able op­tions in­clude boxed food such as rice with stewed chicken, rice with Ja­panese-style scram­bled egg and beef, and dif­fer­ent kinds of sal­ads and noo­dles. All the prod­ucts have been im­proved from the reg­u­lar in-flight meals.

Eastern Air Cater­ing, the in-air food sup­plier of China Eastern, re­ceived the food pro­duc­tion li­cense in April, and be­came the first com­pany that can both pro­duce in-flight meals and food for gen­eral con­sumers na­tion­wide.

Ear­lier, the pan­demic sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the num­ber of flights, and also af­fected the busi­ness of air­ca­ter­ing firms. Eastern Air Cater­ing started to ex­pand its non­avi­a­tion op­er­a­tions and pur­chased re­lated equip­ment and trans­formed part of its work­shop.

“An im­plicit but valu­able la­bel of the avi­a­tion ser­vice sec­tor is safety.

It is re­flected in the strict re­quire­ments for flight safety and safe in-flight meals are a re­flec­tion of the high stan­dards,” said Yu Zhanfu, vice-president of con­sul­tancy Roland Berger.

“Such a la­bel has pro­vided a com­pet­i­tive edge for avi­a­tion in­dus­try play­ers to ex­tend their in-flight ser­vices to more con­sumers, and gain the trust of the pub­lic. The move by Eastern Air Cater­ing has set a new bench­mark for busi­ness expansion, and it could serve as a role model for cre­at­ing more an­cil­lary rev­enues,” he said.

China Eastern de­liv­ered boxed food to com­pa­nies as well as med­i­cal staff and peo­ple un­der­go­ing coro­n­avirus quar­an­tine in Shang­hai, and thus cre­ated new points of growth.

On June 18, China Eastern launched its weekend-un­lim­ited flight passes in the do­mes­tic mar­ket. Pas­sen­gers with the flight pass, which cost 3,322 yuan ($470), can take flights from China Eastern Air­lines and Shang­hai Air­lines to a Chi­nese main­land city with no lim­ited times on week­ends be­fore the end of this year. It is the first such pass in­tro­duced in China.

Be­tween June 27 and Sun­day, more than 65,000 tick­ets were re­deemed.

The hottest three routes were flights leav­ing from Shang­hai to Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince, Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince, and Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince. For sev­eral flights de­part­ing from Shang­hai to Chengdu, the pas­sen­ger load fac­tor was higher than 90 per­cent, and most of the pas­sen­gers were those who re­deemed the pass, it said.

China Eastern said the pass par­tic­u­larly fits the de­mand of cou­ples who live in sep­a­rate cities, those who work or study in a city other than their home, as well as pho­tog­ra­phers and other fre­quent trav­el­ers. They will be able to go back home and take trips fre­quently on week­ends.

Yu said there is still a growth po­ten­tial of travel de­mand, and it has been con­strained by the pan­demic tem­po­rar­ily. An in­no­va­tive travel prod­uct like the un­lim­ited pass could prove a break­through that can ig­nite de­mand.

In ad­di­tion, car­ri­ers are sell­ing flight tick­ets and other mul­ti­ple cul­tural and cre­ative prod­ucts such as air­plane mod­els, porce­lain, hand­wo­ven bags and lan­terns through livestream­ing ses­sions, where Chi­nese con­sumers are in­creas­ingly en­ticed to spend money through pro­mo­tions.

Shen­zhen Air­lines has con­ducted at least five livestream­ing ses­sions on Fliggy, the on­line travel agency arm of Alibaba Group. It sold busi­ness-class flight tick­ets with 80 per­cent off, and some de­riv­a­tive prod­ucts the air­line de­vel­oped by it­self.

TANG KE / FOR CHINA DAILY

China Eastern air­craft on the tar­mac at the in­ter­na­tional air­port in Yan­tai, Shan­dong prov­ince.

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