Trump administration to bar Chinese passenger carriers from flying to United States

Elias Hubbard
June 3, 2020

The Trump administration last month accused Beijing of making it "impossible" for USA carriers to resume China flights and demanded four Chinese airlines file their flight schedules with Washington.

The United States on Tuesday ordered the suspension of all flights by Chinese airlines into and out of the country after Beijing failed to allow American carriers to resume service to China.

The United States is banning Chinese flights to and from America as retaliation for China failing to let USA carriers freely conduct operations.

On March 26, China's civil aviation authority issued a notice saying Chinese airlines could maintain one weekly scheduled flight on one route to any given country.

"The Department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both USA and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights", it said.

The order can be put to effect even before the due date if US President Donald Trump so directs.

Delta Airlines, one of the companies that had sought to resume flights this month, said it welcomed the move. The Transportation Department order said the administration believes Chinese carriers are using charter flights to circumvent China's limit of one flight per carrier per week to the United States and "further increasing their advantage over USA carriers in providing U.S". American's schedule shows flights resuming in October; it has not announced any plans to restart service sooner.

"The Chinese government's failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement", the Department of Transportation said in a statement accompanying the order.

Relations between the USA and China have gone south amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Trump administration blaming the virus on China and pulling its financial support from the World Health Organization for its perceived sympathies toward Beijing.

USA officials repeatedly raised objections to China's civil aviation authority, including on a May 14 call, but the authority said in a letter on May 25 suggesting the notice won't be altered.

Delta and United are flying cargo flights to China.

The current situation stems from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in China a year ago.

The Trump administration is also cracking down on Chinese passenger airline charter flights and will warn carriers not to expect approvals. -China flights, as did most Chinese carriers. It's now set to resume flights to China in October.

China has also been barring entry by most foreigners since late March. Delta had requested approval for a daily flight to Shanghai Pudong airport from Detroit and Seattle, while United had asked to fly daily to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark airport in New Jersey and between San Francisco and Beijing.

In early January, there had been approximately 325 weekly scheduled flights between the two countries. That fell to only 20 per week by four Chinese carriers by mid-February, according to the DOT.

Flights to and from China have been cut severely since Beijing banned foreigners from entering the country back in March while Chinese aviation regulators limited foreign airlines to just one flight per week to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections from hitting the Middle Kingdom.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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