Trump administration bans Chinese airlines from flying to US
President Donald Trump‘s administration on Wednesday banned Chinese passenger air carriers from flying to the United States since June 16 as it tries to pressure Beijing to allow American carriers to resume flights to China amid growing tensions between the world‘s two largest economies..
The measures, announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation, are intended to punish China for failing to comply with an existing flight agreement between the two countries. U.S.-China relations have deteriorated in recent months amid tensions over the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s attempts to introduce new national security legislation for Hong Kong.
The ban applies to Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co and Hainan Airlines Holding Co, as well as small companies Sichuan Airlines Co and Xiamen Airlines Co.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have asked to resume flights to China this month, even though Chinese carriers already continued to fly to the US during the pandemic.
Delta stated in its communication that «we support and value the actions of the US government to ensure our rights and ensure justice».
China still can’t say when it will revise its rules, «to allow US carriers to restore scheduled passenger flights», reads a phrase from a formal order signed by a senior aviation official from the Department of Transportation Joel Szabat.
«We will allow Chinese carriers to operate as many scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows», – said in a separate statement from the department.
The Trump administration on May 22 accused the Chinese government of preventing US airlines from resuming passenger flights to China and ordered four Chinese carriers to submit flight schedules to the US government for approval..
Chinese airlines operate no more than one scheduled round-trip flight to the United States per week, but they also operated a large number of additional charter flights, mostly to help Chinese students return home..
The Trump administration is also dealing with the charter flights of Chinese airlines and is warning carriers not to wait for clearances. The Department of Transportation’s order says the administration believes that Chinese air carriers are using charter flights to circumvent the allowed number of flights for Chinese airlines, and «further increase their advantage over American carriers in the provision of US-China passenger services».
On January 31, the US government banned most foreign nationals who had been in China in the previous 14 days due to the coronavirus crisis, but did not impose any restrictions on Chinese flights. Major US air carriers voluntarily decided to end all passenger flights to China this February..
Delta and United now only operate cargo flights to China. Delta has requested clearance for a daily flight to Shanghai Pudong Airport from Detroit and Seattle, while «United» asked for daily flights to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark Airport in New Jersey, as well as San Francisco and Beijing.
The Chinese Air Administration said at the end of March that Chinese airlines can operate only one weekly passenger flight on one of the routes to any country and that air carriers of other countries can fly no more than the number of flights they made on March 12, follows from the US regulation.
But since US Passenger Airlines ceased all flights by March 12, China «effectively prevents US airlines from resuming scheduled passenger flights to China», – said in a message from the Department of Transport.