Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / China-US

Chinese airlines increasing flights to US

By MINGMEI LI in New York | | Updated: 2024-03-19 10:33
Share - WeChat
China Eastern Airlines, the first global customer of the homegrown passenger aircraft C919, receives the fifth C919 jetliner on March 2, 2024 morning in Shanghai. [Photo provided to]

Chinese passenger airlines are increasing their weekly round-trip flights to the United States to handle higher travel demand expected during the summer.

Both countries are making efforts to gradually restore air travel by increasing the frequency of direct passenger flights, which were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting on March 31, flights will increase to 50 weekly from the current 35, the US Transportation Department said on Monday, bringing the market back to nearly one-third of its pre-pandemic levels.

This is "a significant step forward in further normalization of the US-China market in anticipation of the summer 2024 traffic season", the DOT said in a statement.

However, despite it being the fifth time that the US regulator has increased the quota granted to Chinese carriers since China's post-COVID reopening, it amounts to only a fraction of the more than 150 weekly round trips permitted by each side before the curbs were imposed in early 2020 due to the coronavirus.

The DOT said it was in talks with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) about a "gradual" reopening of bilateral air services.

Several Chinese passenger airlines have announced adding more round-trip flights between major cities starting March 31. New flights between China and the US operated by Chinese airlines are still mostly concentrated in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

China Eastern will add two weekly flights from Shanghai to Los Angeles and one weekly flight from Shanghai to San Francisco. China Southern Airlines will introduce one new weekly flight from Guangzhou to Los Angeles, followed by the addition of two new weekly flights from Guangzhou to San Francisco on April 2.

Air China is adding one additional weekly flight between Beijing and Los Angeles, as well as two extra weekly flights on the East Coast between New York and Beijing.

"The flights from the East Coast of the US to China are very limited, totaling only six flights altogether," Air China New York office General Manager Wang Zhiyong told China Daily. "On average, there is less than one flight per day, making it very inconvenient for many passengers from the East Coast to travel to China, as they often have to rely on connecting flights.

"With the addition of these two new flights, our airline will now operate five flights per week, making travel between the two regions more convenient," he said.

"Currently, there is a severe shortage of seats, and we hope that the addition of these extra flights will effectively alleviate this situation," Wang said, adding that each one-way flight operated by Air China has 322 seats for passengers.

"As cultural and tourism exchanges between China and the US increase, tourists are eagerly anticipating the addition of more flights, especially direct flights. The youth exchange program agreed upon by China and the US is also progressing positively, but the current lack of flights restricts its potential. Increasing the number of flights can provide more resources for this program," he said.

Wang said that American students will begin their summer vacations sooner, in May, while Chinese students will have their vacations in July and August. Adding more flights can provide more seats and greater convenience for travelers from both countries during the summer vacation period, he said.

"I think it's pretty cool, and there is the chance for me to visit China," Zeek Mesa, 16, told China Daily. She said she was excited about the flight increase.

"I'm very into China's art culture; I think that is traditional, and there's so much history behind the country," she said.

"I think one of the big challenges is the geopolitical climate," her mother, Jodi, told China Daily. "We're hoping that there's going to be a little bit more ‘combined agreements', and for people like us, we can still go visit. We can still exchange ideas and everything like that.

"Always wanted to see the Great Wall of China. I know that's one of the most touristy things, but hopefully in the near future!" she said.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349