Asia-Pacific News

Chinese saddened, not put off travel by missing plane

Has MH370 sparked fears of flying?

Chinese travelers, while saddened by the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, may not be put off by taking a flight abroad.

The fate of Flight MH370 carrying 239 passengers and crew remains a mystery more than a week after it took off from Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. An estimated 154 Chinese nationals were on board the plane.

(Read more: Area of Malaysia plane search now size of Australia)

"There are so many expert opinions and tips about how to survive an airplane crash or which seat is the safest but all that for me is empty talk," said Lu Qing, a 26-year old admin worker in Nanjing, a city in eastern China.

Passengers check-in at Malaysia Airlines in Beijing, China.
Getty Images

"Flying is still the safest form of transportation and yes tragedies happen here and there but it will not turn me away," she added. "None of my friends are cancelling their trips. I wouldn't because flying is still safe statistically."

Rising disposable incomes in the world's second biggest economy and an easing in travel restrictions by the government have helped boost outward bound travel from China in recent years.

The number of mainlanders traveling abroad is expected to hit 200 million per year by 2020, double last year's figure, the brokerage CLSA said in a report in January.

(Read more: Chinese tourists to double by 2020: CLSA)

"For the families, this event is a tragedy, but once you get past it people do continue to travel and the industry is quite resilient," said David Scowsill, President and CEO of The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in London.

He added that two events that did have a global impact on air travel because of the level of uncertainty they caused were the 1991 Iraq war and the September 11 terror attacks in the U.S.

No debris yet for missing Malaysia flight

"There's unlikely to be a global impact [from the missing plane] but perhaps Chinese travel to Malaysia could see a short-term blip over the next four-to-six months," Scowsill said.

Malaysia has come under criticism in China for its handling of the missing jet. Relatives of the Chinese passengers who traveled to Kuala Lumpur have expressed their anger and frustration with the investigation with some throwing water bottles at Malaysian officials.

(Read more: China tourism boom is 'tip of the iceberg': )

Malaysia attracted 1.45 million Chinese tourists between January and September last year, a rise of almost 33 percent compared with the same period the previous year, according to the country's tourist board.

Yao Lingyun, a 36-year-old Chinese public health expert, said the missing plane has made her rethink travel plans in general.

"I'm very scared of flying over water now. I planned to go to Chongqing [in Southwest China] for the Qingming Tomb Sweeping Festival, and I checked my flight to make sure it's not going to fly over water," she said. "I'm hesitating if I should go to Taiwan as I have planned, since it'll fly over a Strait. The idea of falling into water really scares me now."

- Additional reporting by Bo Gu and Wendy Min in Beijing.

— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter