Flights to China from USA Surge to 50 Weekly Trips

Flights to China from USA Surge to 50 Weekly Trips

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that starting March 31, Chinese passenger airlines will increase their weekly round-trip flights to China from USA to 50, up from 35. This represents nearly one-third of pre-pandemic levels, marking a significant step towards normalization in the U.S.-China aviation market for the upcoming Summer 2024 travel season.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in early 2020, each country permitted over 150 weekly round-trip passenger flights. However, until August 2023, Chinese and U.S. carriers were restricted to 12 flights per week between the nations. The allowance increased to 18 weekly round-trips on September 1 and then to 24 per week commencing October 29. In November, the USDOT approved 35 flights for Chinese carriers.

Airlines for America, representing major U.S. carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, collectively operating 31 weekly flights to China, endorsed the U.S. government’s gradual approach to reopening the market with China. They emphasized the importance of maintaining this approach.

The Chinese embassy in Washington expressed satisfaction with the progress in increasing direct passenger flights between China and the U.S. It affirmed its commitment to facilitating cross-border travel and fostering people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Newly approved Chinese flights to the United States were reported to avoid Russian airspace, providing them with a competitive advantage in flight time and fuel efficiency over U.S. competitors restricted from Russian airspace.

Other international air markets involving China have reopened more rapidly. Seat capacity between China and the United Kingdom exceeds pre-pandemic levels by 30%, and the capacity between China and Singapore has increased by 6%, according to aviation data provider OAG.

The USDOT is in discussions with China’s aviation regulator regarding the gradual reopening of the U.S.-China air services market, aiming for a phased and predictable return to the capacity entitlements outlined in the U.S.-China agreement.

During a visit to China last year, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo expressed her desire to enhance travel and tourism between the two countries. Raimondo projected that if China were to return to its 2019 levels of U.S. tourism, it could contribute $30 billion to the U.S. economy and create 50,000 jobs in the United States by August.