US approves two Air China flights to take Chinese citizens home

02-Jun-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hundreds of students and other Chinese citizens stranded in America because of the Covid-19 pandemic will soon be heading home after US authorities gave the green light for two Air China flights to take off in the coming days.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said on Saturday that a flight from the US capital to Shenzhen had been approved for Thursday afternoon, while a second, from Houston to Tianjin on Sunday afternoon, has also been given the go-ahead by the US transport department, according to the Chinese consulate in the Texan city.

Both notices reiterated an earlier warning to passengers from the Chinese mission in Washington that they may be subjected to questioning by border officials on departure, including having their phones, computers and other electronics examined.

The flight approvals came after the US transport department said earlier it would begin requiring Chinese airlines to file proposed flight schedules at least 30 days in advance, in response to Beijing not yet approving US carriers’ applications to resume their services to China amid the global health crisis.

There are about 370,000 Chinese studying in the US and many have been left stranded as a result of the flight restrictions. Some have criticised Beijing for its tight controls on flights into China, which they say have left them unable to get home.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China’s published a notice in March restricting airlines, both domestic and foreign, to one flight per week.

When asked about criticism of the ruling known as the “Five Ones” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that the government attached great importance to overseas Chinese and said flights had been chartered to fly them home.

“Chinese airlines have maintained flight operations with relevant countries, keeping open the ‘corridors in the air’ for Chinese citizens,” he said, adding that the authorities would “continue doing our best to protect and assist Chinese nationals wherever they are and help ease their practical difficulties”.

Beijing this week urged the US to “act out of the humanitarian spirit” to quickly approve applications for ad hoc flights to allow Chinese students to return home.

Notices from Chinese consulates in the US said charter flights to China in May had been delayed, including ones from New York to Chongqing, from Houston to Tianjin, and from Chicago to Taiyuan in northern China.


Category: China

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