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News, January 2023
China Travel, How Many International Flights Will Be Approved This Year
January 11, 2022
China travel: how many international flights will be approved this year?
China is now offering hundreds of international flights per week – a fraction of pre-pandemic totals – as ‘multiple factors’ stand in the way of full service Authorities vow to expedite visas for foreign businesses, while saying that ‘necessary’ measures will be taken if other countries restrict Chinese travellers
Erika Na +
SCMP, 10:30pm, 11 Jan, 2023
Post Travellers walk through the international arrivals hall at Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday as overseas flights resumed in China. Photo: Reuters
International flights in China will climb back to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year if the market recovers and foreign businesses receive the promised expedited visas and customs processes to ease their concerns as China reopens, according to authorities.
Additionally, the nation’s transport director said that China will “take necessary corresponding measures” in response to countries imposing restrictions on Chinese travellers.
Chinese airlines resumed international passenger flights from Sunday amid the country’s reopening drive, and official figures put the number of flights for this week at 563 – or about 6 per cent of the pre-pandemic total.
Operators are also applying for flight plan approvals, and authorities said that nearly 40 airlines have submitted requests for around 700 flights per week – involving 34 countries – through early February.
The pace of the recovery of the international aviation sector is likely to pick up in the second half of the yearLiang Nan, Department of Transport
“The resumption of international flights by airlines is affected by multiple factors such as market demand, capacity arrangements, time coordination, and approval by Chinese and foreign civil aviation authorities,” said Liang Nan, the director of the Department of Transport under the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
“It will take a long time to prepare.”
Liang was speaking at a meeting on Tuesday, hosted by China’s International Liaison Department and held for foreign businesses in China, in which representatives from the departments of immigration and customs vowed to expedite visas and custom-clearing processes for businesses.
“It is estimated that, by the end of February, we will see international flights … recover to around 1,000 each week, or 11 per cent of pre-pandemic levels,” Liang said, adding that number of weekly international flights should further increase to between 1,300 and 2,300 by the end of March.
“The pace of the recovery of the international aviation sector is likely to pick up in the second half of the year.
“If the market recovery is good, international flights by year’s end should recover to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and reach 7,300 flights per week.”
While the National Immigration Administration on Sunday began processing foreigners’ applications for visas, permits and visa extensions, a representative said at the meeting that foreign enterprise personnel who urgently need an entry-exit certificate can also apply for expedited processing.
Despite such efforts to promptly open up and return international travel and exchanges to pre-pandemic levels, there have been hiccups as some other countries are not opening up their borders to China with the same level of enthusiasm.
Beijing has imposed retaliatory visa restrictions on South Korean and Japanese travellers after Seoul imposed visa restrictions for Chinese nationals and Tokyo implemented stronger rules due to virus concerns.
“The CAAC will closely monitor and assess the impact on the recovery of the international flight market … and normal operations of carriers,” Liang said when asked about potential retaliation by China in response to the prevention and control measures of various countries.
“And [China] will take necessary corresponding measures based on the rules and principles of bilateral aviation and transport agreements.”
Border ports will open in a safe and orderly manner, with higher efficiency and convenience in clearing customs, said Pang Lianping, deputy director of health and quarantine with the General Administration of Customs.
Businesspeople who require an expedited clearing of customs can take advantage of “urgent handling” services, Pang added.
However, it remains unclear when the requirement will be scrapped for travellers to provide a negative nucleic acid test result within 48 hours of departure.
Pang said the department will pay close attention to the domestic and foreign situations, as well as directions from the State Council.
Qian Hongshan, a vice-minister with China’s International Liaison Department, also stressed that “China’s development cannot be separated from the world”, and that Beijing is determined to restore its position as a stable impetus to the global economy.
China’s strict zero-Covid policy over the past three years dealt a heavy blow to the country’s allure as a favourable investment destination for foreign investors, and Beijing has been working hard to address investor concerns and to attract foreign investment again.
“China will implement a wider and deeper opening up to the outside world … I hope that people in the business community can see China’s determination and perseverance in coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, and that they will have firm confidence in China’s future development and cooperation with China,” Qian added.***
Erika Na joined the Post in 2021. Originally from South Korea, she studied international affairs with a focus on Asia in the US, followed by studying law and journalism in Hong Kong. Before joining SCMP, she worked as a Hong Kong foreign correspondent for Arirang Radio where she regularly updated news from the city and also as an intern at NBC News covering stories from Asia.
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