Effective March 29, each Chinese airline will only be allowed to fly one weekly route to one city per country, operating it at no more than 75 per cent capacity, according to a statement by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
"To resolutely contain the increasing risks of imported COVID-19 cases, and in accordance with the requirements of the State Council for joint prevention and control of the pandemic, [the regulator] has chose to further reduce the number of global passenger flights", the CAAC said.
Around 80 percent of worldwide flights were already cancelled prior to the announcement, but Chinese airlines had been asked not to cut their global routes until Thursday's order by the CAAC. The measure, which takes effect on Saturday, will apply even to those who hold a valid visa or residence permit.
- On Wednesday, 6 infected people died in Hubei and with this the number of dead in China rose to 3,287.
Severe curbs on travel and transport brought the epidemic under control in China but at a heavy price, with some analysts expecting an outright contraction for the country's economy in the first quarter.
The move comes as Europe has quickly surpassed mainland China as the new epicentre of the global pandemic, while domestic cases have tapered off for the past week.
People wearing masks cross a street during rush hour, as businesses start returning to their normal routine following the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China, March 26, 2020.
Hubei province, home to some 60 million people, reported no new cases on Wednesday and opened its borders. The total infection cases in the country have increased to 81,285.
The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, a port city of 11 million people in China's Hubei province, late a year ago.
Ninety percent of the 541 total imported cases were confirmed in Chinese citizens, with 40 percent of them being students returning from studying overseas, Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui told a press conference.