US-China flights ban – 1 min to understand what has happened

On June 3, the U.S. administration announced to ban Chinese passenger airlines from resuming flights to their country. What has happened before the U.S. took this step, and what did the China side respond? Here is a timeline to help you understand.

Feb 2020

Three major U.S. airlines (United Airlines, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) and Delta Air Lines) grounded their regular passenger flights between China and the United States, due to the deterioration of the COVID-19 epidemic in China.

March 2020

Due to the change of the epidemic situation in Europe and the United States, China implemented the “Five One” policy for international flights. All airlines that flying routes to China can only operate one flight per week from each country (the same applies to Chinese and foreign Airlines).

The “five one policy” took March 12 as the benchmark time for implementation. In other words, because the U.S. airlines stopped the flights in between from February, it did not meet the conditions to fly under the “Five One” policy.

May 2020

Aiming the bursting demand from domestic passengers to fly back between China and the United States, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines sent a request to CAAC to resume the operation of China-US routes.

May 14, 2020

The United States Department of Transportation (DoT) intervened in the application for resumption of airlines, and told CAAC that the restriction of the “Five One” policy on the U.S. airlines violated the principle of fair and equal rights of a bilateral agreement. CAAC responded to the premise that “it will consider canceling the flight plan announced on March 12”.

May 22, 2020

The DoT ordered seven Chinese airlines that qualify to operate China-U.S. flights to submit the current flight information and the flight plan of the upcoming 30 days in advance. The authority also said that they would decide whether to continue to allow regular flights based on CAAC’s feedback.

May 25, 2020

The CAAC stated in a letter to DoT, that the “Five-One” policy treats all domestic and foreign airlines equally and does not violate the bilateral agreement. CAAC showed that they did not want to respond to the U.S. side’s countermeasures, and asked the U.S. side to withdraw the decision on May 22.

June 3, 2020

The DoT officially decided on banning Chinese carriers from the China-US routes.

June 4, 2020

The CAAC released a new statement on June 4, said that airlines not qualifying in the “Five One” plan earlier now can operate one international passenger flight once per week to a selected city (from a list approved by CAAC) starting from June 8, 2020.

In the meantime, CAAC also introduced “incentives” and “circuit-breaker” rules :

  • All airlines will be allowed to increase the number of flights to a maximum of two per week, if no passengers on their flights test positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks.
  • If five passengers or more on one flight test positive for the coronavirus upon arrival, the CAAC will suspend the airline’s services for a week. If more than ten passengers test positive on one flight, the suspension will be four weeks.
Related Posts


Stay updated on aviation and aerospace - subscribe to our newsletter!