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As a measure to relieve traffic pressure from those stranded on holiday in South China"s Hainan province, airline companies are operating more wide-body aircraft from the island province to help tourists get back to their homes or workplaces sooner, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Starting Friday, to March 2, Hainan Airlines will add 88 flights from Haikou and Sanya to mainland cities, with the interim planes offering about 10,000 seats, company officials said.
The Qiongzhou Strait, which links Hainan Island to the Chinese mainland, welcomed its peak of returning travelers on Wednesday as the Spring Festival holiday came to an end. However, ferry service between the strait has been cut out off from time to time by heavy fog in the past eight days, stranding thousands of cars and holiday-goers on Hainan Island, and leaving heavy traffic pressure on ports in Haikou, capital city of Hainan.
Congestion on the sea has driven up air ticket prices and contributed to the difficulty in getting flight tickets. Tickets for almost all flights linking the island with big cities, such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, have been sold out for the next few days. Only limited first class tickets remain, of which most are higher than 10,000 yuan.
As of 2:30 pm on Friday, the Haikou maritime department said a total of 6,177 vehicles and 27,792 passengers had been shipped to Guangdong province on the other side of the strait on Friday, but 12,432 cars were still lining up outside the three ports in Haikou as of 7:30 pm.
The whole city has been mobilized to help ease the traffic jam. Local traffic police have been working continuously to maintain traffic order. More than 9,300 local volunteers were offering essential help on sites since last Sunday, with more than 327 service stations set up, hotels and restaurants and other companies offering free meals, drinking water and quilts to more than 148,600 stranded passengers.
A large number of social media are circulating a moving photo that shows passengers in a car rolling down their window to give thumbs up to show their appreciation for Haikou volunteers when they passed by a service station.
"The long time waiting grew into restlessness, but with water, canned rice porridge and help provided by the volunteers, our anxiety was eased", said a tourist surnamed Chen, who had waited for more than eight hours in Haikou.
"The police worked hard to direct the traffic, and lots of workers are working to help solve the problems. All us passengers need to obey the rules", she said, adding her family had a fabulous holiday in Hainan.
"The traffic department estimated that more than 50,000 vehicles need to be ferried in the next few days", said Gu Gang, executive vice mayor of Haikou. "The traffic jam will continue for a couple of days," he added.