Could US Airlines Follow China With ‘All You Can Fly’ Model?

U.S. airlines continue to report dismal earnings for the second quarter, and there doesn’t appear to be an answer anytime soon for the lowered demand for air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But would a short-term jolt help the recovery process? Ask China.

China is enjoying a resurgence in flying as eight of its airlines have rolled out a promotion called ‘all you can fly,’ a pass that, for a single price, allows you to, well, fly as much as you want. China Southern Airlines became the latest Chinese carrier to use the marketing tool when it began the promotion today.

According to Reuters News Service, these deals have been priced around $500 in some cases. Industry experts say the costs with such a deal have been offset by the number of empty seats and has helped China recover 80 percent of lost capacity from pre-coronavirus levels.

Luya You, transportation analyst at BOCOM International, told Reuters that the promotions—ranging from unrestricted flights to an array of terms and conditions—will stimulate demand when coronavirus risks are already sufficiently reduced.

“While these packages may work in domestic markets, we do not expect similar rollouts for outbound routes anytime soon,” she said.

China Eastern has sold over 100,000 passes, state media reported, boosting passenger loads on its domestic routes to over 75 percent on recent weekends, according to aviation data provider Variflight.

Whether it can work here to entice more travelers back into the air remains to be seen, but JetBlue Airways last week came the closest to emulating the promotion. JetBlue ran a brief promotion that ended Monday in which fliers could buy one flight, get another one free for travel through the remainder of the year.

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