China Reopens Beijing For International Flights

China is one of the most important markets within the Asia-Pacific region. Unlike the majority of its peer markets, the country has been imposing the world’s strictest pandemic border regime and is only just starting to gradually reopen, signifying a time for moving on from the pandemic. And for the first time in more than two years, Beijing is welcoming back direct international commercial flights.

Reopening Beijing to the rest of the world

Following the severity of the pandemic, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) banned direct international flights from arriving into Beijing in early 2020, which made traveling to the capital city an inconvenience. Passengers looking to head to Beijing had to first land at one And aside from the hassle of traveling to Beijing, traveling to China and moving around the various towns proved difficult due to its varying quarantine rules.


Eventually, China faced isolation from the rest of the world as anyone looking to travel to the country faced a long list of varying requirements and possible disruptions. Inbound flights became constrained by a rule that limits airlines to just one international flight a week, and there There were even passenger caps and the possibility of complete flight suspensions under the country’s circuit breaker. Highlighting the dramatic effect such regulations have had on China, less than 100 international flights were inbound and outbound from China on July 26th, down from the massive 2,883 on the same day back in 2019.

Still, China has been surviving well with its large domestic sector. From June 1st to 27th, just under 750 inbound passenger flights landed in China, the majority being domestic flights. This marked an average of just under 30 flights per day, and the number Has increased by at least 17% from May, with the top three airports located in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xiamen. Sensing that China cannot remain closed and rely solely on domestic flights forever, the CAAC said earlier this month that it would continue gradually resuming international commercial aviation. Beginning with the airports in Beijing, the CAAC will continue ramping up negotiations with certain countries to increase flight services.

Chinese carriers are more than ready to resume their international routes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Airlines are ready to fly

Local airlines

With the reopening of Beijing to the rest of the world, it is undoubted that the Chinese carriers are ecstatic about restarting their international route networks. Air China is scheduled to resume several international routes to cities in Asia and Europe, including the direct flight from Beijing to Paris and its popular Beijing to Dubai round trip.

On the other hand, Xiamen Airlines announced its intention to resume several international routes and gradually increase flight frequencies. China Eastern Airlines has planned for a major international comeback as it plans to operate more than 130 international flights per week. Hainan Airlines has resumed flight services from Beijing to Belgrade and is planning to add new international routes, including Beijing to Moscow and Beijing to Tokyo.

Shanghai Airlines will fly more than 20 international weekly routes, including resuming its flight services to Singapore. Photo: Getty Images

Foreign airlines

Sharing the excitement of the Chinese carriers are the foreign carriers, which have been just as busy mapping out flights to Beijing. Japan’s All Nippon Airways has resumed flights from Beijing to Tokyo-Narita fairly recently, scheduled for every Monday. The Japanese carrier then plans. to restart flights from Tokyo-Narita to Beijing to make the route a round-trip and will subsequently increase the frequencies to include Thursdays in the schedule.

Air France also resumed one weekly flight from Paris to Beijing, enhancing connections between the two capital cities. And following its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Beijing on March 23rd, 2020, Etihad is ready to return to the Chinese capital with regular weekly service, flying every Wednesday from Abu Dhabi and operated by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Senior Vice President, Government International & Communications, Etihad Aviation Group, commented:

“Etihad continues to deliver on its commitment to facilitating a resilient and prosperous air bridge between the UAE and China. This maintains passenger and cargo movement and supports economic and political exchanges between both nations.”

Etihad’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner features its Business and Economy cabins. Photo: Getty Images

Bottom line

Beijing’s reopening to the world comes at a decent timing, just as the Asia-Pacific region is seeing robust improvements in international passenger numbers, which are unfortunately still far below pre-pandemic levels. With the inclusion of passengers from China, the recovery within the region will undoubtedly accelerate further. And as China continues to open more, it is even possible that the region could be close to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.

Source: Bloomberg

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