US agrees to expand flights to China in rare thaw between parties

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By Webdesk

US Transportation Department allows Chinese airlines to expand flights to 12 round trips per week.

The United States is allowing Chinese airlines to expand flights to 12 round trips per week, a rare example of closer commercial ties between Washington and Beijing.

The announcement from the US Transportation Department (USDOT) on Wednesday matches the number of flights Beijing will allow for US airlines.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will each be allowed to operate four weekly roundtrips, instead of a total of eight weekly roundtrips currently.

The USDOT said Chinese restrictions on air travel had “and continue to have a devastating effect” on travel between the US and China and that it aimed at “gradual, wider reopening” of the market.

China has been pushing for more flights to and from the US after scrapping its harsh “zero COVID” policy last year, but those efforts have been thwarted by a dispute over the cost advantage Chinese airlines have enjoyed over US rivals by over Russia to fly.

Russia banned US and other foreign airlines from its airspace in response to a US ban on Russian airlines introduced to protest Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Despite the increase in flights, air traffic between the US and China remains a fraction of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020.

The rare bright spot in US-China ties comes as relations between the superpowers languish at their lowest point in decades amid a heated rivalry for power and influence.

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