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Lunar New Year

Hong Kong air travellers see steep fare rises for Asia this Lunar New Year

Tickets to Bangkok up 19 per cent and Taipei 14 per cent on last year’s holiday

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 8:34am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 3:34pm

Lunar New Year airfares from Hong Kong to some of the top destinations in Asia have risen by double-digit percentages, travel data has indicated.

As city residents prepare to pack their suitcases to visit the likes of Taipei, Bangkok, Osaka and Singapore, they must dig deeper into their pockets amid significant price rises this year, according to global online travel search website Skyscanner. The increases far outstrip the 2017 annual rate of inflation of 1.5 per cent.

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Airfares to Taipei – the most popular destination booked through the Skyscanner portal – rose 14 per cent compared with the same holiday period last year. Bangkok prices surged 19 per cent, while those for Osaka shot up 10 per cent and those for Singapore 11 per cent. Of the top 10 regional destinations for Hongkongers, fares fell for only three: Seoul (down 14 per cent), Taichung (3 per cent) and Tokyo (2 per cent).

The annual holiday is typically one of the busiest times of the year locally for air travel. Last year, when it ran from January 26 to February 1, the festival brought some 200,000 passengers daily to Hong Kong International Airport for departures and arrivals.

Skyscanner, which displays the prices charged by airlines and travel agents, said the best flight deals could be obtained by avoiding February 17, the second day of the Lunar New Year, for departing Hong Kong.

By flying on February 15, travellers could save up to 13 per cent, with journeys on February 13 yielding a 43 per cent lower rate.

The public holiday in Hong Kong runs from February 16 through 19. 

“There [has been] a significant surge in … Hongkongers looking to travel during Lunar New Year,” a Skyscanner spokeswoman said, noting they were “still primarily interested in Asian cities”.

The holiday is just weeks away, but search volume overall in 2018 has already doubled that of all of last year, the airfare company said.

More expensive flights would be welcomed by full service airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airways, having faced consecutive years of financial pressure. As a result, the carriers have slashed ticket prices to compete with rival carriers such as low-cost airlines.

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However, fares for certain popular long-haul flights were also down. The cost of a flight from Hong Kong to London tumbled 19 per cent year on year, and other destinations saw massive price dips: Sydney (30 per cent cheaper), Paris (25 per cent), Vancouver (22 per cent) and Melbourne (19 per cent).

As a result of the reduced fares, airlines have added capacity, according to data from travel intelligence company OAG Aviation.

Routes to London, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles and San Francisco all saw more seats for sale, while the number of those for sale to Asian destinations was cut.