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Chinese Airlines Can Now Offer 50 Weekly Flights to U.S. Destinations

Chinese Airlines Can Now Offer 50 Weekly Flights to U.S. Destinations

BY ÖYKüM GELEN Published on February 29, 2024 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. will allow Chinese airlines to increase the number of weekly direct passenger flights between the two countries. The decision will help reduce U.S.-China tensions by providing more opportunities for direct connectivity.


Photo: Christopher Arboleda | AeroXplorer


The Decision


According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Chinese carriers can offer 50 weekly round-trip flights to and from U.S. destinations starting March 31. Although this update represents an increase from 35 weekly flights, it is still a fraction of the over 150 weekly flights connecting the U.S. and China before the COVID-19 pandemic. 




The DOT stated that the decision was made after analyzing market conditions and considering the public interest. The agency mentioned this agreement as "a significant step forward in further normalization of the US-China market in anticipation of the summer 2024 traffic season."


Photo: Mark S. | AeroXplorer


The decision is marked as the fifth time the U.S. regulator has decided to increase flights since China reopened its international borders after almost three years of isolation. The number of weekly flights rose from eight to 12 in May 2023. Flights later increased to 18 and 24 weekly round-trip flights in September and October, respectively. There were 35 weekly services between the countries from November until February. 


Analysts from investment bank Citigroup stated in a research report about U.S.-China flights:


"The gradual recovery of the US-China flight route is a positive catalyst to the summer peak outbound traffic and cost improvement as it increases wide-body utilization."


Photo: Aidan Mordin | AeroXplorer


Airlines of America, a group representing American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines, which fly combined 31 weekly flights to China, stated that it "supports the U.S. government's approach to slowly, gradually and reciprocally reopen the market with China. It's imperative the U.S. government maintains its approach."




The Chinese embassy in Washington said it was "glad to see the positive progress made on increasing direct passenger flights between China and the U.S." The embassy added that it is resolving to "further facilitate cross-border travel and promote people-to-people exchange between the two countries." 


The DOT said it communicated with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) about the "implementation of a roadmap to provide for a gradual, broader reopening of the U.S.-China air services market and a phased and predictable return to the capacity entitlements."


Photo: Daniel Mena | AeroXplorer


History of U.S.-China Flights Since 2020


Nonstop flights between the U.S. and China became less frequent as the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading in early 2020. By February 2020, most American airlines suspended flights to China due to worries about the pandemic. The following month, the CAAC limited international flights to China to prevent the virus from spreading. 


Foreign carriers still flying to the country were allowed to fly once a week, while the companies that had already stopped operations in China were not allowed to fly at all. CAAC's move has triggered a dispute between Beijing and Washington. In response to Beijing's restrictions, the Trump administration announced in June 2020 that it would block Chinese passenger airlines from flying into or out of the U.S.


Photo: Thomas Tse | AeroXplorer


U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said when she visited Beijing in August 2023: 


"Before Covid, as many as 3 million Chinese travelers visited the United States annually, contributing more than $30 billion to the U.S. economy. We look forward to once again welcoming Chinese group travel to the United States," 


Even though challenges to fully restoring flights remain, this announcement is one step forward in improving U.S.-China relations.



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Öyküm Gelen
Hey there, I'm Öyküm Gelen, and I'm all about weaving stories that take you to new places. Writing is my jam, and each sentence is like a little journey on its own. But there's more to me than just words; I'm also fascinated by airplanes. Whether I'm exploring the skies in my writing or geeking out about aviation, I can't get enough of it. And guess what? I'm not just about words and wings – I'm knee-deep in the world of architecture studies. Designing structures that stand tall is my other passion. So, in the mix of storytelling, aviation dreams, and architecture plans, I'm Öyküm, bringing a blend of creativity and curiosity to the table.

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