Flight schedules: One area where US-China relations are improving

The two countries plan to double the number of flights between them as airlines slowly build back virus-hit schedules.

China airlines
The US and China have an existing agreement to operate more than 100 flights between them, but measures to controls the spread of the coronavirus have slashed the schedule to a fraction of that [File: Aly Song/Reuters]

China and the United States will each allow air carriers to double current flights to eight a week between the world’s two largest economies, the US Department of Transportation said on Tuesday.

The department said it would allow four Chinese passenger airlines currently flying to the US to double flights to eight weekly round-trips, as China has agreed to allow US carriers to double flights to China.

US carriers voluntary halted flights to China after the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump, on January 31, barred nearly all non-US citizens from travelling to the US from China.

United Airlines said Tuesday it would increase flights to China to four flights a week from San Francisco to Shanghai starting September 4, while the department said Delta Air Lines was also eligible to go from twice weekly to four times weekly.

Delta is also going to four flights after it said in June that it would operate flights to Shanghai from Seattle and Detroit beginning in July, all via Seoul. On Tuesday, Delta it would add one weekly flight from Detroit and Seattle each to Shanghai, via Seoul, beginning August 24.

The US government still hopes China will agree to restore full US flight rights under their bilateral aviation agreement, the Transportation Department has said, adding as China allows additional flights it will respond in kind.

The US-China agreement allows both countries to operate more than 100 weekly flights between the two nations.

The US had threatened to bar Chinese passenger flights in June after Beijing did not immediately agree to restore flights by US airlines.

In May, the Trump administration said Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines Holding Co and their subsidiaries had to file schedules.

Chinese authorities previously agreed to some changes on requirements for US carriers, including allowing temperature checks to be done before flights take off for China, rather than mid-flight as previously discussed, Reuters reported in June.

Source: Reuters