ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
International relations

US to block Chinese passenger flights in new tit-for-tat

Move comes after Beijing denies re-entry of American carriers

A worker cleans a China Eastern Airlines passenger plane at Beijing Capital International Airport.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- The Trump administration will suspend Chinese airlines from flying into the U.S. this month in response to China's refusal to let in American passenger flights, marking another escalation of tensions between the world's two largest economies.

The order, published by the Department of Transportation Wednesday, will go into effect June 16, or immediately, pending a nod from President Donald Trump.

At the moment, flights between the two countries are operated only by Chinese airlines. U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have asked Beijing for permission to re-enter the country starting this month but have not received approvals.

"The Chinese government's failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement," the Department of Transportation said. 

"The department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both U.S. and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights," it said. "In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours."

China has also been barring entry by most foreigners since March. Meanwhile, a U.S. ban on non-American travelers from China prompted by the coronavirus, which went into effect in February, is still in place, despite Beijing having largely brought the country's outbreak under control.

For months now, flights into China have been following a so-called Five One policy.

"Each Chinese airline is only allowed to maintain one route to any specific country with no more than one flight per week; each foreign airline is only allowed to maintain one route to China with no more than one weekly flight," the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a notice published on March 26.

A notice published by CAAC days prior had said that the number of flights allowed for each airline's each route should not exceed the number of such flights operated during the basis period of March 16-22. By that time, flights operated by U.S. carriers had been reduced to zero.

Delta, United and American Airlines announced on Jan. 31 that they were suspending all flights between the U.S. and mainland China. The last flights to China operated by these airlines departed the following week.

Delta, which was operating 42 weekly flights between the two countries, planned to suspend flights through the end of April but later extended it to May 31. 

In mid-May, the Atlanta-based airline said it was planning to resume daily flights on its Detroit-Shanghai and Seattle-Shanghai routes on June 1. The company adjusted its announcement about two weeks later saying it hoped these routes could recover in the second half of this month.

Similarly, Chicago-based United planned to resume daily service to Shanghai from both Newark and San Francisco on Thursday, as well as flights between Beijing and San Francisco, but later moved the date to June 15.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media