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Additional international flights resume

By ZHU WENQIAN,ZHONG NAN and WANG YING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-09 08:42
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An Air China passenger plane descends at the Capital International Airport in Beijing on July 2, 2022. [Photo/IC]

Passenger, cargo routes likely to climb significantly after Spring Festival

Global and domestic carriers have welcomed China's decision to ease COVID-19-related restrictions on international travelers, and plan to gradually expand capacity to meet increased demand.

The International Air Transport Association said the reopening of China's borders in January would have a positive effect on the pace of the economic recovery in the Asia-Pacific region. The lifting of flight restrictions is a positive step forward.

It is crucial that the entire aviation value chain in China be well prepared and adequately resourced to handle the expected surge of travelers, so as to avoid the travel disruptions and problems seen elsewhere in the world when borders reopened, the IATA said.

Starting Sunday, quarantine-free cross-border travel resumed in China after three years.

International arrivals will no longer be subject to quarantine, but still need to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours of boarding, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the General Administration of Customs.

US carrier Delta Air Lines said it would continue to monitor the situation and focus on building the foundation for a gradual recovery, in cooperation with its partner China Eastern Airlines.

Currently, Delta operates four weekly flights, connecting Detroit and Seattle with Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

Air France plans to add a third weekly flight connecting Shanghai and Paris from Feb 4. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will increase its passenger capacity with three more weekly flights between the Netherlands and China as of Jan 30.

"We are very excited to add three more weekly flights between Amsterdam and Shanghai, and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, to boost our routes this winter. It marks an important milestone as we move toward the recovery of our China network," said Wouter Vermeulen, general manager of Air France KLM Greater China.

Dubai-based Emirates said it is committed to serving the demand for travel in and out of China and is looking forward to the rapid recovery of the tourism sector to pre-pandemic levels.

Currently, the airline operates four weekly flights between Dubai and Guangzhou in Guangdong province on A380 aircraft.

Shanghai-based budget carrier Spring Airlines said it plans to resume flights to six destinations including Singapore, and Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand in January. Currently, the airline runs 20 outbound flights.

"We expect more outbound flights to resume at an accelerating speed after the Spring Festival," said Zhang Wu'an, a spokesperson for Spring Airlines.

Shanghai-based private carrier Juneyao Air announced that it would resume flights between Shanghai and Chiang Mai from Jan 18. In addition, the airline has prepared to restart flights to other outbound destinations and plans to resume all its flights to Thailand by the end of 2023.

An industry insider from China Eastern said currently, only a few flights to Southeast Asia are in the process of starting up again, as resuming flights to major international hubs will be affected by many factors, such as insufficient support at overseas airports.

In addition to the excitement at passenger airlines, German express service provider DHL Express said the optimized measures will help facilitate the orderly resumption of the entry and exit of China for both foreigners and Chinese citizens. The move will further benefit economic exchanges and trade between China and the world, injecting new impetus into China's economic recovery.

"DHL Express remains confident of China's long-term prospects," said Rick Zhang, senior vice-president of commercial at DHL Express China. "Looking ahead, China will serve as a key driver of global economic growth and the Chinese economy will greatly benefit global trade."

After launching a new air route connecting Wuxi, Jiangsu province and Leipzig, Germany in November, the German company's latest China gateway went into operation in Wuxi late last month.


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