(Yicai Global) June 20 -- China and the United States have agreed to discuss further increasing the number of direct passenger flights between the two countries, after adding four such flights last month.
China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on June 18 to discuss raising the number of direct flights between the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its website. Industry insiders expect negotiations to begin subsequently.
On May 3, the US transportation department approved Chinese airlines adding four new direct flights to and from China, with Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines submitting applications to operate the new flights.
Chinese airlines have operated 12 flights between China and the US per week since May 30. Eight of them are to and from Los Angeles, and the rest are to and from New York.
The headcount at US airlines has not yet recovered to the level before the Covid-19 pandemic, several industry insiders told Yicai Global. With limited human resources, it is more profitable for them to operate money-making routes between the US and Europe, they noted.
With the increase in direct flights between China and the US, fare prices have slightly declined. The cost of economy class round-trip tickets fell below CNY20,000 (USD2,787) in June and July versus over CNY30,000 before April 29, when China's May Day holiday began, data from ticketing platforms showed.
But prices are still high compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic when an economy class round-trip fare between the two countries costs less than CNY5,000 for many direct flights. But at the time, there were more than 300 such flights per week, and with the number now at 12, many passengers have to take travel via transit.
Once the number of direct flights between China and the US fully recovers, flight fares will further drop, resulting in lower income for airlines, the insiders pointed out.
The recovery rate of flights between China and the US is only 6.5 percent, the lowest among all Pacific routes, according to the latest official US figures.
Editor: Martin Kadiev