The United States Department of Transportation (DoT) has announced that due to the fact that no United States-based passenger airline is permitted to fly into China, the decision has been made to ban Chinese passenger airlines flying into the United States. The ban will be effective from June 16, 2020, or earlier, if the United States president immediately approves the filing.
The ban to Chinese passenger airlines comes in the light of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) decision to allow airlines to only operate only one weekly flight to one destination by an airline, with a maximum load factor of 75%. The routes would only be permitted to be operated only if a carrier was actively flying after March 12, 2020. CAAC announced its decision on March 26, 2020.
Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, who have expressed interest in resuming flights to China, suspended their operations voluntarily before March 12, 2020. Now, they are unable to fly into the Asian country.
Delta Air Lines, for example, planned to launch flights from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Shanghai-Pudong Airport, China (PVG). Both routes would have had a stopover in Seoul-Incheon, South Korea (ICN).
Airlines affected by the Department of Transportation decision include Air China, China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA) , China Southern Airlines (ZNH) , and other long-haul China-based airlines that have active flights to the United States.
“Should the CAAC adjust its policies to bring about necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order,” states the filing, arguing that the goal is not to continue the current operational circumstances, but to rather create an environment where airlines of both countries can exercise their “bilateral rights”.
Further instigator of the conflict is the fact that the DoT has learned that Chinese airlines “may be using passenger charter operations” as a way to go around the CAAC’s orders of limiting international flights to one per week.