Dhaka: The Trump administration issued an order yesterday to ban Chinese airlines from operating scheduled passenger flights to the USA effective June 16.
The move is aimed at increasing pressure on China as it is not allowing US carriers to resume services over there and threatening to further cut off two of the world’s largest aviation markets from one another.
This comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The dispute is also a departure from the type of bilateral agreements that the US government has pursued for decades that aim to make it easier for airlines to expand to international airports without onerous government approvals. The US does not have a so-called Open Skies agreement with China.
The US order affects Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Xiamen. However, the measure does not affect flights from Hong Kong, a Department of Transportation spokesman said.
The current dispute “goes back to the era of limited entry markets which we have been trying to get away from for the past 30 years,” said Bob Mann, an aviation analyst and a former executive at TWA and other airlines.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have been pushing to return to China after pausing service because of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, but they have not yet received the approvals from Chinese aviation authorities to do so.
“We support and appreciate the US government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness,” Delta said in a statement.
United, for its part, said, “We look forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China when the regulatory environment allows us to do so.”
“Our overriding goal is not the perpetuation of this situation, but rather an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties will be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights,” said the US Department of Transportation’s order on June 3. “Should the [Chinese aviation authority] adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for US carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order.”
In March, Chinese aviation officials said airlines from that country could keep flying one scheduled passenger flight a week, on one route to any country, a measure aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
US and Chinese airlines operated 325 flights a week between the two countries in January, the DOT said.