The U.S. allowed Chinese airlines to expand their weekly number of round-trip flights, signaling a slow return towards travel normalcy between the two countries after restrictions introduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The two sides now allow 12 weekly round-trip flights each — but this is still a fraction of the 150 or so that each approved pre-pandemic.
In March, China reopened its borders to foreign tourists for the first time in three years, two months after it lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions for its own citizens.
But international travel is still curtailed, in part due to limitations on the number of flights allowed to destinations such as the U.S.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Chinese airline carriers can increase their weekly round-trips from eight to 12, matching the number that Chinese authorities have allowed for American airlines.
Tourism within China rebounded past pre-pandemic levels over the five-day May Day holiday: Travelers took 274 million domestic trips, an increase of 19% from 2019 levels, Reuters reported. Spending also skyrocketed, with travelers injecting nearly $21 billion back into China’s economy.
Among the top travel destinations were Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, and travelers descended in huge numbers on attractions like Shanghai Disneyland and the Great Wall of China.