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Chinese students using private jets to flee US amid virus outbreak

Sky News logo Sky News 25/3/2020 Russell Hope, news reporter

Chinese students from wealthy families are asking their parents to pay for seats on private jets to bring them home from the US where the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread.

a man standing in front of a computer screen: China has banned charter flights from overseas to all airports, such as Beijing International Airport, above © Getty China has banned charter flights from overseas to all airports, such as Beijing International Airport, above

In China, where the pandemic began late last year, authorities have managed to get on top of the disease, but the US is struggling to cope in some areas.

More than 50,000 infections have been recorded in the US, with new cases in China falling to zero.

New York state has recorded more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a single day, putting the total above 30,000.

Jeff Gong, a lawyer in Shanghai, offered his daughter, a high school student in Wisconsin, either 180,000 yuan (£21,376) or a ticket on a private flight home.

"My daughter begged me to get her back home ... She said 'No papa, I don't want the money, I want to go home'," he said.

Families are worried that time is running out.

On Tuesday, 3,102 out of 3,800 planned commercial flights to and from China were cancelled, according to aviation data provider VariFlight.

Annelies Garcia, of Private Fly, a global booking service for charter flights, said: "[Education] agents and schools are the ones making contact on behalf of the Chinese families looking to group together to arrange a private charter, given the lack of airline flights."

Beijing has banned all chartered flights from overseas and Shanghai is expected to follow suit soon, while Hong Kong and Macau have blocked transit flights.

And as opportunities to escape dwindle, prices are skyrocketing.

The US-based Air Charter Service can offer passengers a 14-seat Bombardier 6000 from Los Angeles to Shanghai for 2.3 million yuan (£273,000), or about £19,400 per seat.

Glenn Phillips, from the company, said: "We have arranged a number of private jets travelling from the US to China repatriating Chinese nationals with routes including New York and Boston to Shanghai, San Jose to Hong Kong and Los Angeles to Guangzhou."

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(content provided by Business Insider)

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