BEIJING – China said it will ease coronavirus restrictions to allow more foreign carriers to fly to the mainland, shortly after Washington vowed to bar Chinese airlines from flying to the United States due to Beijing’s curbs on American airlines.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement on Thursday that qualifying foreign carriers currently barred from operating flights to mainland China will be allowed once-per-week flights into a city of their choosing starting June 8.
Hong Kong and Macau, though part of China, have their own aviation authorities and set their own rules.
The CAAC has slashed international flights since late March to allay concerns over rising coronavirus infections brought by arriving passengers.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration Wednesday barred Chinese passenger carriers from flying into America starting June 16 as it pressured Beijing to let U.S. airlines to resume flights to the country.
The CAAC in late March said Chinese airlines could maintain just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any given country and that carriers could fly no more than the number of flights they were flying on March 12.
But because U.S. passenger airlines had stopped all flights by March 12, they have been unable to resume flights to China.
The U.S. Department of Transportation could not be immediately reached for comment. The department has said it will reconsider its order against Chinese airlines if the CAAC adjusts its policies affecting U.S. airlines.
The CAAC also said all airlines will be allowed to increase the number of international flights involving China to two per week if no incoming passengers on their flights test positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks.
If five passengers or more on one flight test positive for the coronavirus upon arrival, the CAAC would bar the airline from services for a week, it said. Airlines would be suspended for four weeks if 10 passengers or more test positive.
China has also suspended the entry of foreign nationals with valid Chinese visas or residence permits since late March, meaning only Chinese nationals can travel back to the country on commercial passenger flights.