The Trump administration is planning to bar Chinese airlines from flying to the U.S., Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The decision was reportedly made in response to China’s refusal to allow U.S. airlines to resume passenger service to Chinese airports.
“We…conclude that the public interest requires the suspension of all Chinese carrier scheduled passenger air services between the United States and China,” read a Wednesday filing by the U.S. Transportation Department. The suspension will take effect on June 16 and apply to Air China, Hainan Airlines Holding Co., China Eastern Airlines Corp., and China Southern Airlines Co.
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. airlines Delta, American, and United severely curtailed passenger service to Chinese airports, ceasing entirely by March 12. The companies have continued to operate cargo flights to China facilitate trade and the export of medical equipment, and foreign carriers have continued some non-stop passenger flights between China and the U.S.
In recent weeks, the U.S. State Department has accused China of refusing to lift a broad restriction on flights that “effectively precludes U.S. carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to China.” The Civil Aviation Authority of China currently prevents airlines from operating more than the number of flights they operated on March 12, when U.S. carriers had stopped all flights to the country.
The State Department has said it “protested this situation to the Chinese authorities, repeatedly objecting to China’s failure to let U.S. carriers fully exercise their rights and to the denial to U.S. carriers of their right to compete on a fair and equal basis with Chinese carriers.”
Both Delta and United have put in requests to resume a limited number of nonstop flights to China. Before the pandemic, United operated a twice-daily nonstop flight from San Francisco to Shanghai, supported by tech company Apple which bought 50 business-class tickets per day for the route.