More Direct China-US Flights on the Horizon

  • Direct flights between two countries set to increase in October, a fraction of pre-pandemic routings
  • Both Chinese and US airlines will expand their schedules, but politics and structural demand shifts may blunt enthusiasm for total resumption

The 25-year-old Guangzhou-based businesswoman paid a consultant $411 for help getting a US work visa and buying a sky-high $2,800 return ticket for a series of conferences – which, even at that astronomical price, required a 2.5-hour stopover in Seoul.

“There are a handful of choices [of airlines] and few flights,” Xiong said. “It’s not just the high cost. There is also the long waiting list for visas to travel to the US.”

Frequency of flights will increase in October, when US airlines expand their list of direct routes. But analysts expect no quick recovery to pre-pandemic numbers, pointing to strained China-US relations and uncertainty over long-term demand. The US Department of Transportation announced in August that the number of Chinese passenger flights permitted to fly to the US would increase by six in October, up to 24 per week.

Local governments in China, including those in Harbin, Haikou and Fuzhou, have said they would offer subsidies to airlines that allocate runway space to direct international flights.

“However, it is important to note that this is still significantly less than the pre-Covid-19 period when there were more than 300 round trips per week,” said Herman Tse, valuations manager at Cirium Ascend consultancy.

Because of limited capacity, he said, airfares are expected to remain elevated in the coming months. (Source:

Sign Up to Receive China Updates Weekly Newsletter for FREE, HERE

Visit HPA-China’s Information Hub, HERE