Chinese air regulator opens ‘green channel’ for chartered flights serving eight countries

By Tu Lei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/27 12:58:40

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 13 in Burlingame, California. Photo: VCG

China's civil aviation authority is allowing domestic and foreign passenger airlines to apply for "green channels" for chartered flights to airports in the Chinese mainland, which means airlines have more chances to transport more passengers to China now.

According to the document posted online, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will temporarily adjust its policy and give "green channels" to chartered flights, and the application period will be shortened to three days from seven days previously.

Eight countries -- Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland -- are on the list, the Global Times learned. The list excludes the US.  

The document clarified that the CAAC's move is intended to improve the timeliness and flexibility of passenger flight plans.

The Chinese government launched its "Five-One" policy at the end of March in an attempt to curb imported COVID-19 infections. That policy allowed each airline to serve one country, from one Chinese city to one foreign city, with no more than one flight each week.

It's clear that the new adjustment is supplementary to the "Five-One" policy, and provides more chances for airlines that previously could only operate once per week from one country, said Zheng Hongfeng, CEO of industry information provider VariFlight.

However, Lin Zhijie, a veteran market watcher, told the Global Times that the "green channels" move does not mean the "Five-One" policy is not effective. 

He said each flight needs the air regulator's approval, and it also needs to be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the chartered flights are serving staff working at foreign companies in China. "It is quite different from the 'Five-One' policy," he said.

Countries such as Germany and South Korea have made progress in using a fast track entry system for launching business chartered flights to China.

The German Chamber of Commerce in China is organizing a chartered flight with Lufthansa to assist German executives to fly back to China, the Global Times reported earlier. 

Japanese business organizations are calling for a business travel green channel so that Japanese companies operating in China can resume full operations.

On Wednesday afternoon, two chartered flights took off from Japan's Kansai International Airport bound for the Wuhan Tianhe Airport. On the flight were 136 Japanese nationals returning to their work positions in China, many from Honda and Nissan.

Nevertheless, the US air regulator has accused its Chinese counterpart of blocking US carriers from resuming flights to China, which Zheng said is not the case. The "Five-One" policy is not specifically targeting US airlines, Zheng said.

Due to market demand, China will consider increasing flights on the condition that imported coronavirus cases are under effective control, Li Jian, deputy head of the CAAC, said on Wednesday.

He said the flights approved in June will be 407, up from the previous 134 flights, under the strict "Five-One" policy. 


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