China's aviation authority is easing restrictions on foreign airlines from operating flights to the country.

In an order issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) on June 4, it revised its policy of temporarily limiting both domestic and international airlines to one weekly-flight for each country they are serving amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective June 8, foreign airlines not included in its “Phase 5 flight plan”- or those who were not operating flights in mainland China on March 12 – can select a port city within the scope of the company's operating license in China for a weekly flight.

Along with the easing of restrictions on foreign airlines not previously covered on the guidelines, it also introduced an incentive for airlines to increase flights to twice-weekly on a particular route provided no passenger tests positive for COVID-19 on the same route for three consecutive weeks.

With the incentives though also included measures that could limit flight operations to/from China. The policy states that if 5 or more passengers test positive for COVID-19, the airline will have to suspend the route for a week.

The easing of restrictions has prompted the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to drop its initial plans to restrict flights by mainland Chinese carriers to/from the United States starting June 16.  The US DOT earlier pointed out that the CAAC did not approve the flight resumption plans of United and Delta for operations to/from China as Chinese carriers were operating in the US.

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