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China's overseas air travel resumes, but delayed by COVID headwind

Domestic outbreak could stall airline industry efforts to restaff

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on Dec. 17, 2022. China's aviation administration hopes the air industry will gradually get back up to speed and not resume too many overseas routes at once.

China is reopening its borders that have been largely shut for the last three years, scrapping quarantine requirements for inbound travelers and removing restrictions on international flights. But how quickly will cross-border travel return to pre-COVID levels? The answer: It's complicated.

In a very optimistic scenario, international flights to and from China will return to frequencies not seen since 2019 by this northern hemisphere summer at the earliest, several civil aviation experts told Caixin.

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