Caixin
Apr 29, 2021 05:07 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

Trans-Pacific Air Tickets Soar After U.S. Lifts Student Travel Restrictions

What’s new: Ticket prices for flights from China to the U.S. skyrocketed after the American government lifted travel restrictions Monday for students from China and several other countries.

An economy-class ticket for United Airlines’ direct flight from Beijing to Boston Aug. 31 was listed as 7,200 yuan ($1,100) before the news. The price nearly increased fourfold to about 35,000 yuan Wednesday. Ticket prices at other airlines also jumped.

At least two American airlines are preparing to resume more flights between China and the U.S., subject to approval by China’s regulators, people at the airlines told Caixin.

In the long term, the resumption of frequent international flights between China and the United States will still rely on business and tourism travel. Mutual recognition of vaccinations, which could replace quarantine policies, would ease travel, said a person at one of the American airlines.

The background: Students from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program starting Aug. 1 or later can now enter the U.S. without the need to apply for an individual National Interest Exception within 30 days before the start of their studies, the Department of State said Monday in a statement.

China is the largest source of foreign students in the U.S. In 2020, 382,000 Chinese students with F-1 and M-1 visas studied in American schools, accounting for 31% of total international students.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended flights to China in early 2020 before resuming some flights in July.

Each of the three American airlines operates two flights between China and the U.S. every week. Chinese airlines also operate six flights weekly, compared with about 300 weekly round-trip scheduled passenger flights between the two countries before the pandemic.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full story in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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