China’s aviation regulator will gradually reopen its borders, as it allows selected travellers from certain countries to travel to the country.
Under a new “green channel” policy, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will allow carriers — both Chinese and international — to apply for rights to operate passenger charter flights.
Chinese state media reports state that the countries allowed to apply for the “green channel” are Singapore, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland.
The CAAC adds that to “improve the flexibility” of flight planning, it will be shortening processing time for all applications received — from seven to three days.
A Global Times report cites CAAC deputy head Li Jian as saying that China is mulling a gradual resumption of flights from other countries, on the condition that its coronavirus cases are kept under control.
China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, has kept a tight lid on international flights into the country in recent months, out of fear of imported cases. It only allowed each airline to serve one Chinese city from one foreign city, with no more than one flight each week.
The CAAC now only approves 134 international flights a week, but Li was quoted as saying that the administration will increase that number to 407 flights a week from 1 June.
Countries like Singapore and South Korea have been in discussion with their Chinese counterparts to allow essential reciprocal travel to and from China.
Travel restrictions to China, which were implemented as the pandemic grew in magnitude, are still in force in many countries around the world.