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Hong Kong-Los Angeles business class fares hit $13,000 in rush to fly

TRAVEL to and from Hong Kong is easier now that hotel quarantine has ended. It is also more expensive. Much more expensive.

A business class ticket between Hong Kong and Los Angeles leaving Friday and returning on Oct. 7 cost HK$102,270 ($13,029) Monday with Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the only carrier offering the nonstop service in the wake of the pandemic. That’s more than double the HK$44,499 fare for the same flight next year. The price dropped to about HK$76,000 Tuesday morning.

Flight-booking websites have been swamped following Hong Kong’s eagerly-awaited decision to ditch mandatory hotel quarantine, which for months during the pandemic was as long as 21 days — a major deterrent to travel. Trouble is, airlines can’t bring capacity back and rebalance schedules fast enough.

Economy tickets to London Heathrow were listed on Cathay’s website at HK$28,899 on Monday, four times the cost of the same flight next year. Business class fares to the UK capital and New York were close to six figures.

With a public holiday in Hong Kong on Oct. 4 presenting the chance for a rare long weekend away, shorter flights in the coming days turned more expensive too. Return on business class to Singapore, which is hosting the Formula One Grand Prix this weekend, cost HK$38,800 on Singapore Airlines Ltd., more than double the lowest price for the same ticket next year.

Online travel agency Trip.com said Monday that outbound bookings made on Sept. 24-25 jumped 400% from the previous weekend, with orders for flights to Osaka in Japan surging 7,300%. Inbound bookings to Hong Kong climbed 155%.

Japan is the most popular destination from Hong Kong, the co-founder of Klook Travel Technology Ltd. said on Bloomberg Television. The cheapest nonstop, roundtrip tickets to Tokyo offered Monday came from Japan Airlines Co. at HK$7,878 in economy and HK$18,818 in business. Cathay unit HK Airlines had returns to Osaka for HK$6,156 in economy and HK$10,710 in business. — Bloomberg

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