China to ease border curbs for several countries

Flight operators can apply to the air regulator at the provincial level to run passenger charter flights.
Flight operators can apply to the air regulator at the provincial level to run passenger charter flights.PHOTO: AFP

S'pore, Britain are among these; also, certain categories of people can travel to some cities

China will soon relax its border controls for Singapore and several countries, allowing certain categories of people to travel to some cities.

Chinese state media yesterday reported that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will let domestic and foreign airlines apply for "green channels" for chartered flights to airports in the mainland.

The countries given the green light are Singapore, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, said the media reports.

According to a CAAC notice, flight operators can apply to the air regulator at the provincial level to run passenger charter flights.

As China attempts to revive its economy stalled by the coronavirus outbreak, it requires experts and skilled workers, such as those in foreign companies or joint venture firms, to resume work.

South Korea was the first country to establish this "green channel" with China earlier this month.

Certain South Korean business travellers were allowed to enter 10 regions, including Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, after undergoing minimal health screening and quarantine.

More than 200 South Korean workers were the first batch to return on May 10 to Tianjin to resume work at Samsung's subsidiaries, mostly in electronics.

Singapore government officials have been in talks with their Chinese counterparts to re-establish some essential reciprocal travel.

An announcement can be expected soon.

Singapore is also in discussions with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea to re-establish essential cross-border trips.

 
 

Yesterday, CAAC deputy director Li Jian said that the authorities will consider increasing the number of international flights to meet market demand, while keeping the coronavirus in check.

China shut its borders to foreigners, including those with valid work permits, at the end of March in a bid to curb the virus from being imported into the country.

It also slashed the number of flights, allowing each airline to fly one route into and out of China once a week.

Since then, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been operating a direct weekly flight from Singapore to Shanghai, while SilkAir has been flying to and from Chongqing once a week.

Mr Li said that the maximum number of flights allowed has since been capped at 134 a week, reported China News.

 
 
 

But that number will be increased to 407 a week from June 1.

The actual number may be smaller, depending on demand of the routes, he said.

SIA told The Straits Times that it is keeping a close watch on the development of "green channels" and will work with the relevant regulators and the authorities where required.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2020, with the headline 'China to ease border curbs for several countries'. Print Edition | Subscribe