China Begins Opening Skies to Foreign Airlines

By Ryan Gandolfo, June 5, 2020

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Chinese aviation authorities are now allowing 95 foreign airlines that suspended flights to the PRC to apply to restart services. Once a foreign airline is approved, it can operate under China’s ‘Five-Ones’ flight policy.

With this new measure added, the number of weekly international flights would rise by 50 starting June 8, according to a Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) spokesperson. Currently, China allows 150 weekly flights from abroad. The spokesperson said the average daily number of passengers arriving to China would increase to 4,700 – a jump from the current average of 3,000 but still far from pre-pandemic levels of over 25,000.

As of Thursday, there are 37 Chinese cities that are accepting international flights, although border restrictions are still in place for most nonnationals.

This new measure is slated to help many Chinese nationals currently stuck in foreign cities around the world. Some have taken to social media to share their experiences trapped outside of their home country. “At the beginning of this year, I came to Dubai with friends to develop a business. I had planned to return to China on March 27, but the flight was canceled because of the epidemic. I’m constantly waiting for air travel to open so I can go home… I’ve found many people stranded here are having a difficult time,” said one netizen.

The phrase ‘Return Home Ticket’ (回国机票, huiguo jipiao) has been a trending topic online, with Chinese nationals in foreign countries posting flight information and inquiring about tickets. In addition, the phrase ‘Cancel Five-Ones’ (取消五个一, quxiao wu ge yi) has also received plenty of attention online. One Weibo user posted, “Since when is it so difficult for citizens to return home? Please control the ticket prices and ticket agencies and cancel the ‘Five-Ones’ policy.”

As for nonnationals looking to return to the PRC, Chinese authorities have not provided any kind of timeline but did recently open up a ‘green channel’ for eight countries to charter flights with a reduced waiting period. However, all signs lead towards a very gradual border reopening.

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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