Beijing plans to continue to severely restrict international flights until at least October due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese media have reported.

While domestic Chinese air traffic has returned to half of its pre-crisis level, the air traffic authority is maintaining restrictions on flights from abroad, the business magazine Caixin wrote on Saturday.

Since the end of March, a so-called "five-one" rule has been in effect, which allows only one flight per week per airline on one route to a country.

The newspaper 21st Century Business Herald reported earlier this week that according to a guideline from the air traffic authority that the rule would be implemented "at least until October."

Airlines had to have their flight schedules approved two months in advance before they could sell tickets, the paper said.

Many airlines had apparently started selling seats for future flights again, even without approval, it added.

It remains difficult for foreigners to travel to China as it has suspended the validity of the existing visas and residence permits of foreigners who are outside the country, and new visas are currently only issued in rare cases.

Fearing that the virus will be reintroduced from other countries, Beijing also wants to limit the number of Chinese returning to the country.

Domestically, 800,000 passengers have been flying daily since the beginning of May, after the number of passengers fell to fewer than 200,000 at the height of the crisis in mid-February, Caixin said.

Business travel was apparently the most important driver, as tourist destinations were still suffering strongly from the decline.

Related Story