Prices have skyrocketed as Chinese nationals desperately try to return from other parts of the globe as new travel restrictions and lockdowns come into force.
Airlines have all slashed their schedules, and the vastly reduced flight capacity has driven up prices for those stuck abroad.
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Mason Quan, a student from Beijing who is studying at a college in the Midwest, told the South China Morning Post he had no choice but to spend 34,000 yuan (£3,900) on an economy ticket from the US on Air China, returning earlier this week.
It cost almost five times the normal price.
“After our school said next term all classes will be taken online, I decided to return home,” he said.
It comes as the Covid-19 outbreak, which started in China, continues to escalate elsewhere, with the US now reporting more confirmed cases – over 85,000 – than any other country.
Meanwhile, China has managed to flatten the curve, recording only 55 new cases in its last update.
As the situation stabilised in China while deteriorating elsewhere, the average ticket price of flights from Italy, Spain, Sweden, the US and Iran rose by around 150 per cent, according to Trip.com Group, China’s largest online travel agent, which compared data from 1 March to 15 March.
China has now announced it will shut its borders and suspend entry for all foreign nationals from 28 March, including those with existing visas. The only exemptions will be diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas. Only those with a visa issued on or after 27 March will be allowed to enter China, according to the UK Foreign Office.
“On 13 March, China issued a new order to ensure compliance with health and quarantine regulations at borders in order to prevent potential outbreaks from imported COVID-19 cases,” adds the FCO.
“Refusal to comply with procedures or testing put in place or any attempts to deliberately conceal health conditions can result in being sentenced to up to three years in prison. This applies to both Chinese and foreign nationals.”