(Yicai Global) May 4 -- The United States government said yesterday that it will allow Chinese airlines to operate 12 round-trip passenger flights to the country per week, an increase of four. Which carriers will operate the additional flights will be subject to application and approval.
At the moment, flag carrier Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines are the main Chinese carriers to operate flights between China and the United States. Sichuan Airlines and Hainan Airlines also flew between the two countries before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In August 2020, the US Department of Transportation said Chinese airlines could operate only eight weekly round-trip flights between the US and China. Over the next two years, it raised the number flown by US airlines to 12 a week, but the number for Chinese airlines was not increased.
Compared with the dozens of direct flights between China and the US per day before the pandemic, there are just 24 operated by Chinese and American airlines between the two countries. The slow increase has also kept plane ticket prices on the routes high.
A round-trip economy class ticket generally costs at least CNY30,000 (USD4,336) for a direct flight from the US to China in June, surging from less than CNY10,000 before the pandemic.
The pilot staffing of US airlines has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, industry sources told Yicai Global. With limited human resources, it may be more lucrative for them to have more profitable flights to Europe rather than increase those between China and the US, the people added. This is also one of the important reasons why US airlines are not in a hurry to add direct flights.
It is worth noting that in the latest US directive, there is no mention of the clause “Chinese airlines are not allowed to fly over Russian airspace” requested by US officials and some airlines, as recently reported by foreign media. That means the additional four flights a week between China and the US could still fly over Russia.
Editor: Peter Thomas