The U.S. Transportation Department announced 4 weekly flights between the U.S. and China on Monday, further breaking the deadlock of flight reductions.
The U.S. government said it amended its order to allow the Chinese air carriers to fly 4 weekly flights after the Chinese government approved 4 weekly flights to China by flights of U.S. carriers on June 12.
“We welcome this action by the Chinese government, as an important first step to fully restore air travel,” the U.S. Transportation Department said in the statement.
The approved U.S. airlines included Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Delta said it would resume two flights to Shanghai from Seattle next week via Seoul in South Korea. The U.S. carrier said it also wants to add one weekly flight from Seattle and Detroit each to Shanghai since July.
While U.S. airlines suspended flights to China starting in January, Chinese airlines continued to fly. Currently, the Chinese government has blocked U.S. air carriers between the two countries and only keeps 4 weekly flights by the Chinese carriers including Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines.
“The Department will continue to press for the full restoration of passenger air travel between the United States and China,” the U.S. government department said in the statement.
2020 sees a plummet in flights between the world’s largest two economies on the basis of GDP. Passengers traveled between China and the United States were close to 9 million in 2019 before the restriction, according to Chicago-based consulting firm Kearney. Over 35,079 flights were scheduled in 2019 between China and the United States, excluding shared flights, alternate flights, and stopped flights, as data from Feiyou Technology shows.
Since June, the U.S. Department of Transportation said on June 3 it plans to ban flights by June 16 Chinese carriers in response to Beijing’s curbs on U.S. carriers.
Then the next day, the Civil Aviation Authority of China revised its restrictions to permit U.S. carriers from zero to one flight each week. On June 5, the U.S. authority granted Chinese carriers, in aggregate, the right to operate twice-a-week flights to enter the U.S.
For international flights, if five or more passengers on one flight test positive upon arrival, the CAAC will bar the airline for a week. Additionally, if more than 10 passengers were tested positive, the airlines would be suspended for four weeks.
Domestic flights in China have been tightened again as a new wave of 31 new confirmed coronavirus infections in Beijing on Wednesday. The city encountered a new cluster of Covid-19 cases in a wholesale market, which supplies 80% of Beijing’s fruits and vegetables.
The Chinese authorities have canceled hundreds of flights in the capital city’s two major airports. According to data from Feichangzhun, 665 flights took off and landed at Beijing Capital Airport, down 20% from the previous day with the cancellation rate of 59%. Daxing Airport reported 378 flights on June 15, down 18% from one day before, and canceled 65% flights.
Shares in Delta dropped 2% to $30.73 per share, and UAL down 2% to $39.25 per share on Wednesday.