As outrage grows over missing flight, Chinese websites ban Malaysia Airlines ticket sales


Chinese travel sites boycott Malaysia Airlines ticket sales

Two of China’s largest online travel booking sites have decided to banish Malaysia Airlines as anger grows over the lack of answers about the missing MH370 plane. Both Baidu-owned Qunar (NASDAQ:QUNR) and ELong (NASDAQ:LONG) no longer return any flight search results for Malaysia Airlines. Other airlines are available on both sites for flights in and out of the country.

ELong took to its Sina Weibo account yesterday to announce the self-imposed ban. The ecommerce company slammed Malaysia Airlines for its “shocking, outrageous” handing of the case. The post has been retweeted nearly 12,000 times and received 23,500 ‘thumbs up’ on the microblogging site.

Rival site Ctrip (NASDAQ:CTRP) has not joined the boycott.

Two passengers on the missing plane booked their flight tickets via ELong. The company’s notice today says that it will compensate each family RMB 100,000 (US$16,250).

Tourism boycott

Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing – with 239 people aboard, 153 of whom are Chinese nationals – vanished on March 8 shortly after take-off. There’s still no clear answer to what happened, and the airliner – nor any wreckage – has yet to be recovered. The recovery operation is currently focused on the Indian ocean off of Western Australia, but no physical evidence has been found.

Malaysia is facing a wider boycott from China as the mysterious and tragic case of the missing airliner carries on. Malaysia fears US$1.2 billion in lost tourism revenue as Chinese people avoid traveling to the country.

What do you make of this boycott by the ticketing websites – an understandable reaction, or self-serving grandstanding? Let us know in the comments.

(Hat-tip to South China Morning Post for spotting this)

Editing by Paul Bischoff
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