Chinese airlines will be suspended from flying to the U.S. later this month as the Trump administration fights back against China’s ban on U.S. airlines.
The suspension was announced Wednesday by the Department of Transportation.
“This action responds to the failure of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to permit U.S. carriers to exercise their bilateral rights to conduct passenger air service to China,” a statement on the DOT website read.
“Currently, four Chinese carriers and no U.S. carriers operate scheduled passenger flights between the United States and China. U.S. carriers have asked to resume passenger service, beginning June 1st. The Chinese government’s failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement.”
Negotiations to allow U.S. carriers access to China will continue.
“The Department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both U.S. and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights. In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” the statement read.
The dispute over air travel is among many that have become part of the hostile atmosphere between the two nations as the U.S. has criticized China’s recent actions on the world stage.
Air China, Beijing Capital Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines will be banned from flying by June 16, according to the order.
While in late January the U.S. blocked most noncitizens who had been to China from entering the U.S., it had not blocked airlines from landing in the U.S. until now. U.S. airlines that were flying to China voluntarily stopped flights as passenger traffic withered.
As the world reopens, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines now want to resume fights to China, according to Reuters.
China, however, has yet to allow them to do so. In March, the nation’s Civil Aviation Authority filed an order that set limits on how many flights airlines could make based on the number of recent flights between China and other countries.
The U.S. believes that order was unfair.
“By March 12, U.S. airlines had completely ceased flying passenger service to and from China; however, Chinese carriers generally maintained a degree of passenger service during that timeframe,” the DOT order read.
“In establishing an arbitrary ‘baseline’ date of March 12, 2020, as well as the other restrictions cited above, the CAAC Notice effectively precludes U.S. carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to and from China and operating to the full extent of their bilateral rights, while Chinese carriers are able to maintain scheduled passenger service to and from each foreign market served as of the baseline date, including the United States.”
Last month, the Trump administration signaled its disapproval with China’s actions and required Chinese airlines to file schedules with the DOT for the administration to approve, setting up Wednesday’s order blocking the flights.
The order also indicated that the administration believes China is using charter flights to end-run the rules that limit airlines to one flight per week to the U.S., “further increasing their advantage over U.S. carriers in providing U.S.-China passenger services.”
Delta said in a statement that “we support and appreciate the U.S. government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness.” United said it will resume service “when the regulatory environment allows us to do so.”
The U.S. airlines have continued to fly cargo routes even when passenger flights were canceled.
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