BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese civil aviation authorities plan to extend until June 30 their curbs on international flights to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the U.S. embassy in Beijing said in a travel advisory on Friday.
China has drastically cut such flights since March to allay concerns over infections brought by arriving passengers. A so-called “Five One” policy allows mainland carriers to fly just one flight a week on one route to any country and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week to China.
Washington has accused Beijing of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese airlines to file flight schedules with the U.S. government. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines wanted to resume flights to China in June, the U.S. Transportation Department has noted.
U.S. airlines are not flying to China at all because they suspended services before the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) imposed restrictions on air travel.
Chinese airlines have over the past few days submitted flight schedules to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Reuters searches on a U.S. government website showed.
China Southern Airlines is proposing to add more flights to multiple U.S. cities from July, while China Eastern Airlines is aiming to ramp up capacity from September, according to the U.S. government website.
When asked about the U.S. embassy statement on the extension of restrictions, a CAAC news department official told Reuters there was no change to the existing rules.
The maximum number of international flights now allowed is 134 a week under restrictions imposed on March 29.
State media has reported that China’s aviation authority would consider increasing international flights as long as imported coronavirus risks are under control, citing the agency’s deputy director Li Jian.
China has brought the outbreak largely under control with draconian lockdowns and quarantine rules. No new confirmed cases were reported in the mainland on Thursday. The total number of infections stand at 82,995, of which 1,734 are imported.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Se Young Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Shri Navaratnam and Himani Sarkar)