The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will allow more foreign carriers to fly into Mainland China, as it rolls out incentives for airlines based on passengers not testing positive for the coronavirus. 

From 8 June, foreign airlines which were previously not allowed to operate to China will now be able to do so, but can only operate one flight a week to a Chinese city of their choosing. 

While the CAAC did not explicitly state which carriers will be able to benefit from the new easing of restrictions, it is understood that the move will benefit US carriers, which have so far not been able to operate flights to China. 

In May, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines applied to the CAAC for authority to resume numerous passenger flights between the countries, after suspending their routes due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, the CAAC denied their requests. 

China restricted the number of international flights into the country in March, in a bid to stem the number of imported coronavirus cases. Its order in March also also prohibited carriers from adding more capacity than they had in schedules on 12 March – a date on which US airlines had no China flights. 

The CAAC’s latest move comes a day after the USA barred all Chinese passenger carriers from flying into its airports, citing travel restrictions imposed by Beijing on US carriers. 

Separately, the CAAC has rolled out an incentive scheme for foreign carriers — airlines will be allowed to increase the number of flights per week to two, if there are no incoming passengers testing positive for the coronavirus for three consecutive weeks. 

If an airline was found to have carried up to five passengers who test positive, they will have to suspend their operations into China for a week, before being allowed to restart flights. If there are 10 passengers, that carrier will suspend operations for a month.