China Won’t Ease Curbs on International Flights as Fast as Expected
What’s New: China will gradually ease restrictions on international flights as long as risks of imported Covid-19 cases are under control, but the pace of resumption will be slower than expected, a top civil aviation official said.
China will not triple the number of regular international flights to 407 a week starting June 1 as previously planned, Li Jian, deputy chief of China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) told state media Wednesday, citing current conditions. The country currently accommodates 134 international flights a week under restrictions imposed in late March in response to the pandemic.
At the same time, the CAAC encouraged airlines to operate chartered flights linking China with international destinations to meet demand for essential trips. The CAAC pledged to shorten the process for approval of international chartered flights to three working days from as many as seven.
Background: China slashed the weekly number of international flights into the country by 90% under a March 29 policy. Dubbed the Five-One policy, the rule limits all domestic airlines to one international flight per week to each country, while foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once a week.
According to the March policy, restrictions are to be gradually relaxed, and the weekly number of international flights was planned to reach 407 starting June 1. But Li said Wednesday the actual number will be smaller than that target for next month.
Last week the CAAC said the Five-One policy would remain in effect, without giving a timeline for changes. The decision sparked a public outcry from Chinese people stranded abroad and pressure from Washington for Beijing to allow American airlines to resume flights into the country.
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