Travelers planning summer trips in and out of China may continue experiencing difficulties finding plane tickets as the country extends a March policy limiting the number of international flights in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Major domestic airlines unveiled June flight schedules showing little increase in international service. Carriers including China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, XiamenAir and Juneyao Airlines largely carried over their May schedules for June. Air China, the flagship carrier, plans to add only two international routes linking Beijing with Madrid and Manila in June, according to the airline's latest schedule, released Friday.
Several foreign airlines seeking to resume flights into China submitted applications to Chinese regulators but have not yet received approvals, people familiar with the matter told Caixin.
China's civil aviation regulator said Wednesday that the March 29 policy capping international flights would remain in effect. Dubbed the Five-One policy, the rule limits all domestic airlines to one international flight per week to each country, while foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once per week. No flight should be filled to more than 75% of capacity, according to a notice issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
Under the restrictions, the weekly number of international flights into China dropped 90% to around 133, according to a Caixin calculation. The number of inbound travelers slid by 80% from 25,000 to 5,000 a day, according to caacnews.com, a news service affiliated with the CAAC.
The CAAC Wednesday also required that airlines submit flight schedules for regulatory review two months in advance. For instance, airlines should seek approval for June and July plans in May and submit August plans by the end of June. The CAAC said any change in the flight policy will be announced in advance and the approval procedure will be modified accordingly.
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