The US Department of Transportation said Wednesday (3 June) that it would block Chinese passenger airlines from flying to the United States beginning 16 June, saying the move was retaliation for China’s refusal to allow American carriers to fly to the mainland. American carriers had earlier halted flights to China when the US State Department cautioned against people travelling to China because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a later order from President Donald Trump that barred most non-US citizens from entering the US from China because of the virus.
Download the new US DOT rule here.
The rule would impact operations of seven carriers, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines. The department noted in its rule filing that the ban could take effect sooner at Trump’s discretion.
American carriers had hoped to resume flights to China in early June, but US officials said rules imposed by Chinese authorities effectively prevent them from doing so. The Transportation Department’s order does not impact cargo operations between the two countries.
“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,” the new rule says. “Should the [Civil Aviation Authority of China] 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.”
Chinese airline officials reached by Asian Aviation declined to comment. US carriers applauded the Trump administration’s move, according to media reports. “We support and appreciate the US government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness,” said Lisa Hanna, a spokeswoman for Delta. A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said “we believe DOT’s order will ensure fair and equal opportunity for passenger airlines with respect to service to and from China. We hope that this process will protect the rights afforded to US carriers under the current US-China Air Transport Agreement.”