The U.S. and China will approve twice the number of passenger flights currently permitted for air carriers to fly between the two countries, according to sources and a document reviewed by Reuters on Friday.
The U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) will increase the number of Chinese passenger flights allowed to fly to the U.S. to 18 weekly round-trips on Sept. 1 and increase that to 24 per week starting Oct. 29 , up from the current 12, and the Chinese government will agree to the same increase for American carriers, sources said.
The agreement, a rare sign of cooperation between Beijing and Washington, comes after China on Thursday lifted pandemic-era restrictions on group tours for more countries, including key markets such as the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Australia.
USDOT published its decision late Friday but did not immediately comment. The White House, State Department and Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Our overriding goal is an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties are able to exercise fully their bilateral rights to maintain a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers,” USDOT said in a document issued on Friday.
The 24 weekly flights are still a fraction of the more than 150 round-trip flights allowed by each side before restrictions were imposed in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 3, USDOT said it would allow Chinese airlines to increase U.S. passenger services to 12 weekly round-trips, equal to the number of flights Beijing has permitted for American carriers. Previously, only eight weekly flights by Chinese carriers were allowed.
Reuters reported in June that Chinese airlines are avoiding flying over Russian airspace in newly approved flights to and from the U.S., according to flight tracking website FlightAware and industry officials.
Russia has barred U.S. airlines and other foreign carriers from flying over its airspace, in retaliation for Washington banning Russian flights over the U.S. in March 2022 after the country invaded Ukraine.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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