Air travel between China and the United States was significantly reduced during the pandemic but finally there is some positive news on the return of transpacific flight capacity.

From 1 September, Chinese authorities have approved airlines from each country to collectively operate 18 weekly round trip flights between China and the US, up from 12 weekly roundtrips currently permitted.

And from 29 October, this will increase to 24 weekly roundtrips.

For perspective, this is still pales in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, when Chinese and US carriers operated a joint 150 weekly roundtrips.

Currently, United is operating four weekly flights between its San Francisco hub and Shanghai’s Pudong International airport; American is flying Dallas-Pudong four times a week; and Delta is flying twice-weekly between Detroit, Seattle and Shanghai, respectively.

Over the weekend, United announced that it would increase its Shanghai flights to daily starting 1 October.

At the same time, the Star Alliance member said it would resume daily flying between Beijing and San Francisco from 1 November, when the new 24-weekly cap kicks in.

In a footnote, United said that it has not got approval for the Beijing flights at this time and so these flights are not available for booking.

It is uncertain whether United will indeed get these approvals, given that other US carriers Delta Air Lines and American Airlines may as well lay claim on their previous China routes, including from Detroit and Seattle and Dallas/ Fort Worth.

“This announcement is good news for United customers because we believe that a daily flight to Beijing and a daily flight to Shanghai from San Francisco is consistent with the demand we see in the market right now – especially since our ability to serve China nonstop from our mid-continent hubs or the East Coast is severely limited by Russian overflight restrictions,” said United SVP, Patrick Quayle.