WASHINGTON – The US and China will approve double the number of passenger flights currently allowed for airlines to fly between the two countries, the Biden administration said Friday, in a rare sign of cooperation between the two countries. the two largest economies in the world.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) said it would increase the number of Chinese passenger flights allowed to fly to the US to 18 weekly roundtrips on September 1 and increase to 24 per week as of October 29, compared to the current number. 12
He said the Chinese government will agree to the same increase for US airlines, confirming a decision previously reported by Reuters.
The deal between Beijing and Washington, who have clashed on many fronts, comes after China on Thursday lifted pandemic-era restrictions on group travel to more countries, including key markets like the United States, Japan, Korea. South and Australia.
USDOT said the first tranche of flights was approved to begin September 1 “to meet an anticipated increase in demand around the start of the academic year.”
The sources said US airlines are not expected to immediately take advantage of the 18 weekly flights.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington referred questions on specific details to Chinese authorities, but said that “direct flights are essential to increase mutual visits between the Chinese and American peoples. We hope that the restoration of more flights will be good for the flow of people and trade between the two countries.”
Following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s June trip to China, USDOT’s and State Department’s continued engagement with Chinese officials “made this important step forward possible,” the USDOT added.
“Our overriding goal is an improved environment in which carriers on both sides can fully exercise their bilateral rights to maintain a competitive balance and a fair and equal opportunity between US and Chinese air carriers,” the USDOT said in its approval order. on Friday.
Air China said in a filing with the USDOT on Thursday that it was seeking permission to add a new weekly flight between Beijing and Los Angeles.
China Eastern, Xiamen Airlines and China Southern also offer scheduled services to the US, while United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines currently operate passenger flights to China.
United said Friday it will expand flights between the two countries under the agreement, resuming flights to Beijing and reintroducing its daily service to Shanghai.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said it “supports the gradual reopening of air service between the United States and China commensurate with increases in passenger demand over time. Today’s amended Order ensures fair and equitable opportunities for US airlines to compete in the marketplace.”
The 24 weekly flights are still a fraction of the more than 150 round-trip flights allowed by each side before restrictions were imposed in early 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
On May 3, the USDOT said it would allow Chinese airlines to increase US passenger services to 12 weekly roundtrips, equal to the number of flights Beijing has allowed for US airlines. Previously, only eight weekly flights by Chinese airlines were allowed.
US carriers have noted that they cannot fly over Russian airspace to China, making some routes much longer. Reuters reported in June that Chinese airlines avoided flying over Russian airspace on newly approved flights to and from the US, but continued to use Russian airspace for other flights.
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