United Airlines has no plan to increase flights between China and US, given directive from DOT
Published: Feb 28, 2023 04:28 PM

File photo of an aircraft in the United Airlines fleet (Provided to Xinhua)

File photo of an aircraft in the United Airlines fleet (Provided to Xinhua)

United Airlines has confirmed to the Global Times that its flights between the US and the Chinese mainland will not increase, given the current directive from the US Department of Transportation (DOT). 

Flights between the US and the Chinese mainland continue to be governed by US DOT orders called Part 212/213 that restrict the amount of flying between the US and China, the company said in an e-mail to the Global Times.

Currently, UA is allowed to fly four weekly frequencies between the US and the Chinese mainland and operates a four-times-weekly nonstop service between Shanghai and San Francisco, the company said. 

The remarks came after three US air carriers resume direct flight services to China after years of suspension.

Delta Air Lines said on February 13 that it will resume non-stop flight services between China and the US on March 3, 2023. Nonstop flights will be operated from Shanghai-Pudong to Seattle and Detroit twice a week, respectively.

It is the third carrier in the US to resume direct flight services to China in the past two months after United Airlines and American Airlines (AA).

Market insiders said that the number of the flights between two countries is equal, and the two countries' civil aviation regulators need to negotiate for the flights to increase.

Given that UA flights has not increased, it shows that the negotiation is not going smoothly, and it may have another round of negotiation before October when the new flying season starts, according to

In an e-mail reply to the Global Times on January 11, DOT said as indicated in Order OST-2020-0052 issued by DOT on July 30, 2020, all proposed flight schedules filed by Chinese carriers for scheduled passenger services are disapproved until further notice of the Department. 

The US department has no comment on the potential for future increases in the number of scheduled passenger flights between China and the US, the department said. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced to adopt of the Five-One policy on March 29, 2020, brought by the epidemic, which allowed Chinese carriers to carry out only one outbound flight per week on one route to any country, and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week into China.

The flights between China and the US have kept limited operation in the past years, and the US even issued an order to suspend 44 flights of four Chinese airlines in January of 2022 as an attempt to shift blame to China's "circuit breaker" measures on curbing the coronavirus.

China has removed certain COVID-19 restrictions on international passenger flights from January 8, 2023, to prudently resume the operation of the flights, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

From January 8, domestic and foreign airlines will operate scheduled passenger flights in accordance with bilateral transport agreements, with limits on the number of flights no longer applicable, per a circular released by the administration.

The country will no longer identify high-risk inbound flights, nor will it limit the passenger load factor for inbound flights to 75 percent.

The number of fixed international passenger flights stood at 795 across 98 carriers from home and abroad last week from February 6 to 12, covering 58 countries and regions, according to the CAAC.

The number of flights is up 65 percent over the week from January 2 to 8, the week before China downgraded COVID-19 management on January 8.

Currently, Delta Air Lines, United, and AA have resumed direct flights between China and the US.

In terms of the Chinese carriers, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines fly routes between China and the US with 16 round-trips per week, according to, compared with 317 round flights three years ago.

CAAC said on January 8 that it has started accepting applications for resuming operations of China-US routes from January 8.

CAAC said it is stepping up the approval work in accordance with the procedures and welcomes Chinese and American airlines to operate flights between the two countries. CAAC said it will also strengthen communication with its US counterpart to ensure a smooth resumption of flights between the two countries.