China to keep tight curbs on overseas flights

China is set to maintain strict curbs on international flights well into next year.

That's according to analysts who have heard from the country's top airlines.

And the news could spell trouble for tourism businesses around the region, where Chinese travellers play an outsized role.

Last month China's aviation regulator said weekly international flights were still only at 2% of 2019 levels.

Now the country's three biggest airlines have all said restrictions could last through the first half of 2022.

Analysts say Air China, China Southern and China Eastern all said as much during earnings calls.

February's Winter Olympics in Beijing are reportedly one factor, with the government wanting to maintain a preventive approach to infections.

Air China management told analysts recovery would be slower than in Europe or the U.S.

One analyst told Reuters that could mean a full recovery for Chinese air travel doesn't come until 2024.

Others have been cutting their forecasts for airline earnings.

For now the firms are stuck with strict limits.

Chinese carriers can operate one flight a week on one route to any country.

Foreign airlines are allowed one flight a week to China.

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