More Chinese carriers will increase intl flights after over 2 years of restrictions
Published: Jun 12, 2022 11:01 PM
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport Photo: VCG
File Photo: VCG

International flights departing from cities in China are expected to increase after recent signs of further relaxation of tight restrictions for the past two years.

On Sunday, Air China restarted a route which was suspended for nearly one year, from Chengdu to Kathmandu. The route, which flies once per week, is the second international departure from Chengdu to be reopened after flights to Singapore started earlier with the normalization of epidemic prevention and control.

Hainan Airlines told the Global Times that it will also resume a direct flights from Chongqing, in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, to Rome on June 23. This is the first intercontinental international passenger route from Chongqing since the epidemic.

The Chongqing-Rome flight, the first international route opened by Hainan Airlines in Chongqing, had operated for nearly five years carrying more than 180,000 persons after its maiden flight in 2015. It was suspended due to the impact of the epidemic.

In a bid to curb imported COVID-19 cases, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) launched the "Five One" policy in March of 2020, which stated that airlines of the Chinese mainland could fly just once a week on one route to any country, and foreign airlines could operate just one flight a week to China.

Media reported that, as early as the end of May, three domestic airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China and Hainan Airlines, have received the quota allocation of new international flights from the CAAC.

Additional inbound and outbound international flights will be gradually announced after reaching an agreement with foreign civil aviation authorities, according to online news outlet Yicai.

China Southern Airlines has obtained new flight quotas to Kyrgyzstan. Flights to Tajikistan and Turkey, which were temporarily suspended after the epidemic, were also reestablished, Yicai reported.

Air China has been allocated a flight quota to Belarus and the United Arab Emirates, after flights were reduced in September 2021.

The Global Times earlier reported that Air China increased the number of weekly flights from New York to Beijing in June.

Qin Gang, the Chinese ambassador to the US, said earlier that the number of weekly flights between China and the US will be increased from 18 to 24.

The recovery in Asia in 2021 has been lagging behind other regions, with international travel at just 7 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) .

Although flights in the first quarter of 2022 have risen to 17 percent, the road to recovery is still long. Before the epidemic, international travel within Asia was one of the largest and most important international air travel markets in the world, but it has only recovered to 6 percent of its pre-pandemic level in 2019, IATA said.

Chinese government has been rolling out a comprehensive package of measures to boost the Chinese aviation industry.

On Wednesday, the first batch of pre-allocated subsidies for domestic passenger flights was released with 3.29 billion yuan ($491 million) to support the safety and stability of the civil aviation industry, according to the Ministry of Finance.