Political and travel tensions reached a peak this morning when the Trump administration decided to block Chinese commercial airlines from flying to the U.S.
The Department of Transportation said it will suspend travel privileges of Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines starting June 16.
“The Department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both US and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights,” the DOT said in a statement. “In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours.”
The situation has been a contentious back-and-forth. Both Delta and United want to restart their lucrative routes to China next month and have submitted applications to resume flights to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). This after having suspended flights more than two months ago due to the coronavirus.
But to stem the tide of foreigners bringing imported cases of the virus to China, the CAAC ordered all airlines to use their flight schedules from March 16 to 22 as their baseline for how many flights can logistically be operated to and from China. But Delta and United had already stopped flying to Beijing, Shanghai and other cities by those dates, so they have no benchmark.
The Transportation Department said that China was violating an agreement between the two countries covering flights by each other’s airlines.
The Associated Press noted that before the pandemic there were about 325 passenger flights a week between the United States and China, including ones operated by United, Delta and American Airlines. While U.S. carriers stopped their flights, Chinese airlines continued to fly about 20 times a week between the two countries in mid-February and increased that to 34 flights a week by mid-March, according to the Transportation Department.
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