WASHINGTON- In an unusual display of collaboration between the world’s two largest economies, the United States of America (USA) and the Republic of China are set to endorse a doubled quota of passenger flights for air carriers connecting the two nations.
The Biden administration announced this positive development on Friday.
America China Doubles Weekly Flights
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) revealed its intention to augment the allowance for Chinese passenger flights bound for the U.S.
As of September 1, the permitted weekly round-trip flights will surge to 18, and this number will further escalate to 24 per week beginning October 29. This marks a significant increase from the existing limit of 12 weekly round-trip flights.
Despite their frequent disputes, this agreement between Beijing and Washington follows China’s recent decision to ease pandemic-related limitations on group tours for multiple countries, including significant markets like the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) explained that the initial batch of flights had been greenlit for commencement on September 1, aligning with the projected rise in demand coinciding with the beginning of the academic year.
According to Reuters sources, U.S. airlines are not anticipated to take advantage of all 18 weekly flights immediately.
Fraction of Pre-Pandemic Flights
The Chinese Embassy in Washington deferred specific inquiries to Chinese authorities but emphasized the significance of direct flights in fostering mutual visits and trade between Chinese and American people.
The restoration of increased flight options is anticipated to positively impact the flow of individuals and commerce between the two nations.
The engagement between the USDOT and Chinese officials, following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China in June, is cited as a pivotal factor that facilitated this notable advancement, according to the USDOT.
USDOT’s approval order on Friday underscored their primary objective of creating an improved environment that ensures both American and Chinese carriers can exercise their bilateral rights, leading to equitable opportunities and a competitive balance between the two countries airlines.
Air China recently indicated its intention, via a filing with USDOT, to secure permission for a new weekly flight connecting Beijing and Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, China Eastern, Xiamen Airlines, and China Southern also operate scheduled services to the U.S., and United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines offer passenger flights to China.
United Airlines announced its intention to expand flights between the U.S. and China under this agreement, intending to resume flights to Beijing and reintroduce daily service to Shanghai.
Airlines for America, a trade group representing the industry, expressed its support for gradually reopening U.S.-China air services in line with the growing demand for passenger travel.
The revised order guarantees a balanced and fair competition environment for U.S. airlines in the marketplace.
Although the approval will result in 24 weekly flights, it is important to note that this number remains a small fraction compared to the more than 150 round-trip flights each side enjoyed before the imposition of restrictions in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact of Russia Ukraine War
USDOT announced on May 3 that it would enable Chinese airlines to elevate their U.S. passenger services to 12 weekly round-trips, mirroring the number of flights that Beijing sanctioned for American carriers.
Before this adjustment, only eight weekly flights by Chinese airlines were authorized.
U.S. carriers have pointed out a crucial constraint: their inability to traverse Russian airspace en route to China, which leads to extended flight paths for certain routes.
A Reuters report in June highlighted that Chinese airlines were opting to avoid Russian airspace for newly approved flights to and from the U.S. while still utilizing Russian airspace for other flight routes.
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