With the aviation industry taking a big hit during the global pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the world, a few people who have been majorly affected by this are the study abroad aspirants. With different countries come different policies, all directed towards curbing the spread of the virus. Some of them changing their policies as and when the situation changes.
In African and Middle Eastern countries, airlines travel numbers are at 30% of the 2019 statistics. In China, the Five-One policies in China have further made international travels for students that bit difficult as well, as stated by Billy Xu, Sower International Education Group.
The Five-One Policy had been implemented at the start of the year and was expected to be waived by the end of October 2020. However, predictions claim the policy to be further extended due to current situations. According to the policy, restrictions are imposed on flights carriers can ply between China and other destinations. Further, if any passengers are found COVID-19 positive, routes can be suspended.
Currently, Xu stated, each airline is allowed to ply 2 airlines between the UK and China. He added that since students attended classes online this year, for the first semester, it is expected to see a rise in the demand for flights in early 2021.
Even though the number of flights and seats available is limited, cancellations as compared to a few months ago have been few, Xu commented. He added that the prices have been higher than usual as well.
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Among the initiatives undertaken by UK universities, a few have coordinated chartered flights for international students from countries that usually send in their students. Two charters from China to Belfast had been coordinated by Qatar Airways, specifically for students wishing to attend classes at Queens University. A Qatar Airways spokesperson commented that over 400 chartered flights have been coordinated by the airways during the pandemic.
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However, the flights remain expensive and somewhat unattainable for students. Nonetheless, students can opt for flights with multiple stop-overs, thus, proving to be more economical. This option has not convinced customers to opt for international flights as fears pertaining to changing policies and travel restrictions continue to stay afloat.