DOT OKs More U.S. Flights from Chinese Carriers

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an increase in the allowed number of scheduled roundtrip weekly passenger flights by Chinese airlines to the United States to 50, up from 35, beginning March 31, according to a DOT order filed Monday.

“This level of service will be equivalent to the total number of passenger flights permitted by the [People’s Republic of China] aviation authorities for U.S. carriers,” according to a DOT statement.

The carriers allowed to operate these flights include Air China, Beijing Capital Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, according to the order. DOT has requested these carriers file proposed schedules for the department to consider.

DOT said the approval follows a November 2023 meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping, in which they “committed to work towards a significant further increase in scheduled passenger flights, in parallel with actions to restore full implementation of the U.S.-China air transportation agreement.” DOT added it is committed to facilitating a phased and predictable normalization of the bilateral aviation market consistent with the U.S.-China Civil Air Transport Agreement.”

DOT in August 2023 said it would increase on Sept. 1 the allowed number of Chinese passenger flights to the U.S. to 18 weekly roundtrips, up from the previous 12. That figure increased to 24 as of Oct. 29, and in November reached 35.

Industry group Airlines for America in a statement said it “supports the U.S. government’s approach to slowly, gradually and reciprocally reopen the market with China,” adding, “it’s imperative the U.S. government maintains this approach.”

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines currently fly a combined 31 weekly flights to China, according to Reuters. American operates seven of those flights but declined further comment. Delta and United did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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