Chinese online travel agencies ban Malaysia Airlines ticket sales
Popular anger in China against Malaysia's perceived mishandling of the MH370 crisis continues to boil, as several top online travel agencies announced boycotts against Malaysia Airlines until it "gets to the bottom of the truth on Flight MH370.”
Agencies including eLong, LY.com, Qunar, and Mango, which are among the largest online ticket and travel vendors, said they had banned sales of Malaysia Airlines' tickets due to public anger against the carrier and the Malaysian government.
However, Ctrip.com, the country's largest online travel agency, had not put a similar ban in place as of Friday "due to objections raised by the sales department," one Ctrip employee told the South China Morning Post on the condition of anonymity.
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“We will continue the ban indefinitely until the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines release every piece of information they have in order to find out the truth about the missing flight as soon as possible, ” reads a statement eLong published on its official Weibo page.
Two passengers on the missing fight MH370 had booked their tickets via eLong, the agency said in its statement, and that it would pay each family 100,000 yuan (HK$125,873) “as a consolation.”
In its online statement LY.com said it would offer a full refund to clients wishing to cancel bookings of the airline's tickets and would carry on the ban until the company “sorts out the truth and offers a satisfactory explanation to all the victims and the Chinese people”.
The announcements seemed to have pleased some net users. The eLong statement had received over 7,000 comments and more than 10,000 reposts as of Friday.
“eLong has proved it has a conscience, and I will book from them in the future,” read a comment by one microblogger.
Ctrip, Qunar and LY.com ranked among the top three most influential online travel agencies in China, according to a 2013 research conducted by China IT Research Centre.
As of the third quarter of 2013, Ctrip led the market with 48.9 per cent of the total sales of China’s online travel booking market, followed by eLong (9.5 per cent) and LY.com (6.3 per cent), according to statistics released by iResearch, a market research firm in China.
NASDAQ-listed Ctrip posted a total revenue of 5.4 billion yuan in the 2013 fiscal year, according to its financial statement.
Amid growing calls on China's social media to boycott Malaysian tourism and products this week, some bloggers and columnists have warned against stoking further tension between the two countries and urged for calm and help for the passengers' families.