BEIJING - China's aviation regulator will increase domestic flights to 34% above pre-pandemic levels, state news agency Xinhua reported, a move that will further boost the post-pandemic recovery of Chinese airlines.

China's top airlines reported their first quarterly profits in more than three years on Friday, fanning industry hopes for China's big three state carriers to finally step out of the difficulties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China will roll out its winter and spring season flight plan on Sunday, which will last until March 30, Xinhua said on Friday.

There will be 96,651 domestic flights a week, or 34% higher than the same period four years ago, with 7,202 new weekly flights brought on by the opening of 516 new domestic routes, the report said.

The increase in domestic flights will boost connectivity between regional airports in western and southern China and hub airports in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Editing by William Mallard)