Chinese online agencies suspend sales of Malaysia Airlines following MH 370 incident
At least one Chinese online travel brand has now stopped selling Malaysia Airlines flights as the quest for answers over the stricken flight MH 370 continues.
Expedia-owned eLong, which had two passengers on-board the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, says it has suspended ticket sales on the carrier in support of the families of passengers on-board MH 370.
The company adds that it understands the plight of the families involved and hopes the Malaysia government can provide information as to the whereabouts of the aircraft as soon as possible.
It has created a fund of Yuan 100,000 (approximately $16,000) for the families of its two passengers on-board.
The search for MH 370 has now concentrated on a vast area of the Indian Ocean west of Australia, where satellite data and spotter planes have reported seeing items of debris floating on the surface.
Requests for comment from Qunar and 17U have to be returned.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines has continued to communicate with customers and families of the passengers through its various social media channels, although the tone inevitably has changed since the Malaysian government announced earlier this week that the flight had probably crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
Still, a sombre statement and picture posted on the carrier’s Facebook page was met with anger by some who have yet to believe the aircraft is lost until physical evidence is recovered and identified.
Qunar has confirmed that it has also suspended sales of flights on the carrier.
In a statement, an official says:
“Given that the reason which caused the tragic MH370 incident remains unclear, out of consideration for Chinese consumers’ safety, we had imposed a temporary ban on booking Malaysian Airlines on Qunar last Thursday. This has no impact on consumers who have already booked Malaysian airlines through us.”
Ctrip tells Tnooz about its stand on not blocking Malaysian Airline bookings:
“Under the current circumstance, Ctrip does not suggest that our clients travel to Malaysia. However, we respect their personal needs and will provide assistance to book, cancel and postpone tickets and/or schedule.
“To this moment, we have not received any travel warning issued by the authorities. As such, routes to Malaysia or East Asia are still available in Ctrip.
“We will pay close attention to the tourism situation in Malaysia and take necessary measures to safeguard the rights of our clients if there is risk or safety warnings from the authorities.”
NB: MH 370 memorial image via Shutterstock.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.