USA Airlines announced it would drop the fees for booking flights to and from China, as part of the carrier’s effort to lower its global cost of travel.
The company said the move was in line with a new US Department of Transportation rule that imposes a fee on any non-stop domestic flight to China of more than $600.
“This is a big step to make sure we are offering the best service to our customers, and reducing the cost of our trips to China,” USA’s president and CEO Doug Morris said in a statement.
The change will allow USA to offer the same services to the world’s second-largest economy at a reduced price, he said.
The move is likely to reduce travel costs for American Express travellers who have to pay extra for connecting flights to mainland China, USA said.
China’s government is seeking to tighten restrictions on international travel and commerce, and US airlines have already seen a drop in revenue.
Since the beginning of the year, the US has had to cancel more than half of its domestic flights, as well as a significant number of international ones.
The airline also announced it will soon discontinue its frequent flier program.
US Airways announced last week it would reduce fees on international flights to Beijing by 10 per cent for customers who have a credit card, but has yet to finalise the exact number of people who would benefit from the change.
However, Morris told the Associated Press that the change would be “not a total loss”.
“We are not in a position to say, ‘You’re going to have to change your pricing, you’re going on a discount,'” he said, adding that the company would keep the fee unchanged.
“It’s a way of making it easier to fly and make it more affordable.”
The announcement follows a year of uncertainty as the US tries to curb the flow of goods and people to China, where many of its citizens live and work.
US President Donald Trump has made combating the global trade deficit a top priority of his first term, but US travel to China has dropped sharply since he took office.
Despite the change in pricing, USA’s domestic and international travel is still more expensive than it was in December 2017, when the cost to fly to China was $1,878 per person.
But USA has not changed its travel policies, including its international award booking policies.