According to a Bloomberg report, China might be looking to ease a COVID-related rule on international flights.

When international flights inadvertently carry a certain number of COVID-positive passengers into China, the route would be slammed with a short-term ban. The freeze typically ranges from one to two weeks, depending on the number of infected passengers.

On condition of anonymity, sources disclosed that China’s State Council had told relevant agencies to forgo the policy, termed the circuit-breaker mechanism. They said it was part of the three-phase proposal to revive the COVID-battered aviation industry.

China has already increased the number of weekly overseas flights since late October. According to the people, this is the first stage in its revival plan, with revising the circuit-breaker policy considered the second stage. The third stage involves enabling a complete resumption of regular aviation traffic. However, no specific timetable for the remaining two phases was given.

Beijing had already adjusted the circuit-breaker measure in August, suspending inbound routes for one week if 4% of the passengers caught the virus and two weeks for 8%. In the previous policy, the corresponding ban applied to a proportion of 5% and 10%. 

In contrast to the mainland, China has switched its attitude to applying stringent measures over international travel. Bloomberg reported in October that officials were contemplating whether to require international arrivals to spend two days quarantined in a hotel plus five days at home. Previously, it was ten days in a hotel and seven days at home.

The disclosure comes after Chinese authorities promised on November 2 to prioritize growth and move forward with reforms.
According to Nikkei Asia, China’s top three state-backed airlines face increased losses while other carriers overseas are rebounding. They include China Southern Airlines, Air China, and China Eastern Airlines. China Southern alone has suffered a net loss of about $2.4 billion (17.5 billion yuan) in the first nine months of this year.

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