China and US Give the Green Light to Double Flights in Rare Show of Cooperation Between Rivals
Washington agrees to approve 24 round-trip flights by Chinese carriers per week from late October and says Beijing will reciprocate
However, this is still just a fraction of the number allowed by each side before Covid-19 controls were imposed in 2020
The US and China will approve twice the number of passenger flights currently permitted for air carriers to fly between the two countries, the White House said on Friday, in a rare sign of cooperation between the world’s two biggest economies.
The US Transportation Department (USDOT) said it would increase the number of Chinese passenger flights allowed to fly to the US to 18 weekly round trips on September 1 and increase that to 24 per week starting on October 29, up from the current 12.
It said the Chinese government would agree to the same increase for American carriers, confirming a decision reported earlier by Reuters.
The agreement between Beijing and Washington, which have sparred on many fronts, comes after China on Thursday lifted pandemic-era restrictions on group tours for more countries, including key markets such as the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
USDOT said the first tranche of flights was approved to start on September 1 “to meet an anticipated increase in demand around the start of the academic year”. Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said it supported the gradual reopening of US-China air services commensurate with increases in passenger demand over time.
“Today’s modified order ensures fair and equal opportunity for US airlines to compete in the marketplace,” it added.
The 24 weekly flights are still a fraction of the more than 150 round-trip flights allowed by each side before restrictions were imposed in early 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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US carriers have noted that they cannot fly over Russian airspace to China, which makes some routes much longer. Reuters reported in June that Chinese airlines were avoiding flying over Russian airspace in newly approved flights to and from the US but still using Russian airspace for other flights.