ontario news watch

China wants more Canada flights after COVID-19 turbulence, despite tour-group ban

OTTAWA — Beijing and Ottawa are in talks over how to increase flights between China and Canada, following an American deal in June.

Transport Canada says the weekly number of flights between the two countries has dropped drastically, from more than one hundred per week in the summer of 2019 to just 10 this season.

The decline stems from China’s strict COVID-19 rules that Beijing relaxed earlier this year, which included limits on foreign flights and frequent quarantines and testing for visitors.

Aviation analyst Helane Becker says those rules made airlines break up their flights, making stops in places like Korea to rotate crews, and no direct flight between China and Canada has been re-established since then.

Meanwhile, Beijing has kept Canada out of an agreement that makes it easier for Chinese tour groups to travel abroad, citing the diplomatic strain around issues like foreign interference.

Yet both countries say they’re in talks to increase the number of flights, with Ottawa hinting it might seek a deal similar to a recent American agreement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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