Passenger flights between China, US to increase to 100/week from March 31: official
Published: Feb 29, 2024 09:32 PM

Air China flight CA985 takes off from Beijing Capital International Airport on November 11, 2023, heading to San Francisco International Airport in the US. Photo: VCG

Air China flight CA985 takes off from Beijing Capital International Airport on November 11, 2023, heading to San Francisco International Airport in the US. Photo: VCG

Chinese and US airlines will increase passenger flights from March 31, an official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said on Thursday, a positive sign of flight recovery between the two countries.

Starting on March 31, airlines from China and the US can operate a total of 100 scheduled round trips per week, Dai Jun, an official from the CAAC, told a press conference.

It will be the biggest jump for such flights since the outbreak of the pandemic. There were three rounds of flight increases in 2023, and the most recent was from 48 to 70, starting from October.

The move comes as the two countries witness increasingly frequent meetings and visits by officials and business leaders from both sides. Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday met a US business delegation in Beijing, and more high-level US officials, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, are expected to visit China later this year.

Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, met the delegation led by the US Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Both sides believe that China-US economic and trade relations are of vital importance, and they should enhance understanding, promote mutually beneficial cooperation and promote the steady development of bilateral relations through communication and dialogue.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the sidelines of the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Abu Dhabi, on Monday local time.

Wang and Tai engaged in "professional and in-depth" discussions on bilateral and multilateral economic and trade issues of mutual interest, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The flight increase is also in line with the targets set by the CAAC earlier this year.

In January, the CAAC said that the international passenger transport market's recovery will accelerate in 2024. It predicted that the number of flights per week would reach about 6,000 by the end of 2024, recovering to about 80 percent of the levels before the pandemic.

Increasing direct flights between China and the US was listed in the targets.

However, the recovery has left the industry still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels. Data from Fly Master showed that since February, the weekly recovery rate of flights between China and the US means that flights are about 20.4 percent to 21.8 percent of the pre-pandemic level.

After additional flights are added at the end of March, flight levels are expected to return to 28.4 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

International scheduled passenger flights in China have continued to resume since the Spring Festival travel rush which started in late January.

Chinese and overseas airlines operated 5,389 round trips from February 12 to 18, reaching 70.7 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the CAAC.

China has regular passenger flights with 64 countries and regions, of which 48 are Belt and Road Initiative partner countries. The number of flights between China and 22 countries, including Singapore, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, has exceeded the pre-pandemic level.

China will continue to promote the resumption of international flights to better meet the needs of personnel exchanges, Dai added.

Global Times