Passengers of flight MU2527 of China Eastern airlines get off the plane at the Phoenix International Airport in Sanya, Hainan Province, on April 8, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
China's top aviation regulator said on Wednesday that international flights with some qualified countries are expected to moderately increase in the coming days.
Civil Aviation Administration of China spokesman Xiong Jie said at a news conference that the country has eased restrictions on international passenger flights recently, allowing a modest increase in flights from some countries under the conditions of controllable risks and adequate receiving capacities.
"The administration is currently in negotiation with related countries on the adjustment of international passenger flights," he said, adding that a moderate increase could be expected in the near future.
The qualified countries include those having so far exported few COVID-19 cases to China while maintaining close economic and trade ties with China, as well as those meeting the remote prevention and control requirements to effectively reduce the risk of imported cases, he said.
Countries with a large number of overseas Chinese nationals who have a strong demand to return, as well as countries that have established "fast tracks" with China to meet work and production resumption needs, are also qualified under the conditions, he added.
So far, China has signed fast track agreements with Germany, South Korea and Singapore, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Xiong also noted that an important prerequisite for increasing international passenger flights is to resolutely contain the risk of imported coronavirus cases.
As a result, the administration has a set of risk prevention and control measures, including the recent adoption of a "reward and circuit breaker mechanism" for the carriers to increase or suspend flights in light of their epidemic control work, he added.
As an incentive, carriers will be allowed to increase the number of international flights to two per week on one route if the number of passengers who have a positive nucleic acid test on their flights stands at zero for three consecutive weeks, according to the administration.
The airline must suspend the operation of the route for one week if the number of passengers who test positive for the novel coronavirus reaches five. If the number exceeds 10, the airline will suspend the flights for four weeks, it said.
"For airlines that have effective prevention and control measures in place and meet the requirements, we will make good on this. For those that do not take adequate prevention and control measures and trigger the 'circuit breaker', we will take decisive action," Xiong said.
Some airlines have already taken measures in accordance with the administration's requirements by rejecting passengers who have not taken a nucleic acid test for the novel coronavirus, he said.
The administration will continue to resume international passenger flights in a safe and orderly manner under the conditions of controllable risks to further meet the needs of stranded Chinese people to return home and to ensure the stability of industrial and supply chains, he added.