China-US direct flights set to increase in 2024

Updated: Jan 5, 2024 By Luo Wangshu China Daily Print
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China aims to greatly increase direct flights to and from the United States this year to boost exchanges between the world's two largest economies and promote the use of domestically made jets such as the C919 around the world, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Thursday.

The number of direct flights between China and the US has recovered to 63 round trips a week, Song Zhihong, the head of the administration, said at the civil aviation sector's annual conference in Beijing.

The international civil aviation market is continuing to grow, and the administration has set the target of increasing the total number of international flights to and from China to 6,000 a week by the end of this year, about 80 percent of the number before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of international flights to and from China each week now stands at 4,600, up from less than 500 at the beginning of last year.

The number of flights between China and Europe has returned to about 60 percent of the level before the pandemic.

The number of countries with flights to and from China is about 89.2 percent of the total before the pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, direct flights between China and the US were drastically reduced, but last year China-US air services started to rebound.

During their meeting in November, top leaders from both countries agreed to increase flights between China and the US to boost people movement.

At the beginning of last year, there were eight direct flights between the two countries per week. Although the number saw a great increase last year, China-US air services have far from fully resumed, according to Lin Zhijie, a civil aviation industry analyst.

Speaking of the performance of services between China and the US last year, Lin said they lagged behind the overall recovery of international civil aviation in China and the US.

In 2019, more than 300 round trips operated every week between China and the US, he said.

"China and the US are the world's two largest economies, and should offer more direct flights to support communication.

"Ticket prices between China and the US still remain high. If more flights are offered, ticket prices will continue to fall," he said.

Before the pandemic, a budget price two to three months in advance was about 5,000 to 6,000 yuan ($700 to 840). There is still room to lower the current price, Lin added.

According to a search on a popular ticket booking application on Thursday, the ticket price from Shanghai to San Francisco in March is about 7,700 yuan.

Lin said the increase in flights will also boost the demand for passengers.

To fulfill the goal of increasing the number of flights, more measures can be carried out to make travel easier, such as cutting the time it takes to get a visa and extending visa durations, he said.

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