The federal government will soon be soliciting volume discounts from the airlines for federal employe travel on the 17 routes most heavily traveled by employes.

Plans for the program were unveiled yesterday by the Office of Management and Budget at a meeting of the newly created Management Improvement Council, a 17-member commitee formed to advise OMB and the Office of Personnel Management on ways to improve government management. Making better use of the taxpayer dollar spent on essential government travel fits right in, an official said.

Within the next two weeks, the General Services Administration will issue an official solicitation to all airlines flying the 17 routes, inviting them to offer discounts for the bulk purchase of airline tickets on those routes. The offers the carriers submit will have to be filed with theCivil Aeronautics Board for approval but OMB expects sympathetic consideration of any discount proposals, sources said yesterday.

A successful discount fare program could have s significant impact on the pricing structure of the entire industry as the federal government's market power can be considerable. Federal employes make up a significant proportion of travelers on some of the routes, OMB said.

The airlines are opposed to the idea, sources said.

The Civil Aeronautics Board approved a joint application from the Government of China and Pan American World Airways to operate a series of unrestricted, nonstop passenger charters this winter from the United States to China. The flights will be the first directly between the two countries open to the public since regular air service was interrupted 30 years ago. A two-week, all-inclusive tour package will cost between $1990 and $2250.