China Loosens International Flight Ban

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CAAC, the Chinese aviation regulator, quickly decided to loosen its Five Ones-policy after US DOT on Wednesday decided to ban all flights by Chinese airlines effective June 16, 2020 (read more here).

International airlines can, from Monday (June 8, 2020), operate one flight per week to one Chinese city. There are incentives for airlines not to bring Covid-19 positive passengers by increasing their flight allowance after a period.

Here’s an excerpt from the Global Times (access their piece here):

China’s civil aviation regulator on Thursday moved to loosen international flight restrictions by allowing all qualified foreign airlines to resume services to China from Monday, aiming to boost international travel essential to a faster economic recovery while continuing efforts to stem the arrival of imported coronavirus cases.

From Monday, foreign airlines not listed in the fifth flight arrangement released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in March can fly one international passenger flight to one Chinese city each week, the CAAC said in a statement on Thursday.

That means airlines from many countries including Australia, Canada, the US and Japan will be able to operate flights to China.

Weixing writes about the incentives (access their piece here):

The regulator also said it will implement a reward and punishment mechanism for all airlines. Carriers that for three consecutive weeks do not carry any passengers on flights to China who test positive for the coronavirus will be allowed to open one more flight to China each week.

However, if a carrier’s number of passengers on China flights who test positive for the coronavirus reaches five, that airline’s flights to China will be suspended for one week. If the number reaches 10, operations will be suspended for four weeks.

Conclusion

This change of policy by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is undoubtedly a swift response to the China flight ban by the US DOT announced yesterday (read more here).

It is still, however, challenging to see how these flights by foreign airlines would be profitable if they allow only one passenger flight per week, there are no restrictions on freight operations, to one city. Are the crews going to stay bolted down in a hotel for a week, or are they shuffled to/from China to operate these flights?

And is there a demand for these flights when strict entry and quarantine requirements are in place in China?

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