The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is relaxing the rules that limited foreign carriers from operating passenger flights to China. The decision comes a day after the United States’ decision to ban China-based airlines from operating in the U.S. due to China’s policy.  

On June 4, CAAC relaxed its rules regarding foreign carrier operations to the country. Starting from June 8, 2020, foreign airlines that had discontinued services prior to March 12, 2020, will now be able to once again conduct flights to China. 

Some limits will still remain: airlines are still bound to one weekly flight to one city, indicated the CAAC. Furthermore, carriers will not be able to pick and choose their destination airports freely, as the authority stated that companies will have to obtain a permit to operate routes to prevent airports from becoming “too concentrated.”

However, incentive measures will also be introduced. If no passengers test positively for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks on the route, an airline is permitted to increase its capacity to two weekly flights. On the other hand, if five passengers on the route test positive, the airline will be forced to abandon the route for one week; if 10 passengers test positive, the company will be barred from operating passenger flights for four weeks.

After the cooldown period, an airline will be permitted to fly the route once again.

On June 3, 2020 the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) indicated that starting from June 16, 2020, China-based airlines will be barred to enter the United States. DoT argued that due to the fact that United States-based airlines were not permitted to operate passenger operations to and from China, the Asian country‘s carriers had a competitive advantage over airlines registered in the United States.

Three U.S. based airlines, namely American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, discontinued their services in February 2020 voluntarily, thus were not able to resume services to China after the CAAC imposed limits in March 2020. While American has not indicated its wish to fly to China, both Delta and United filed with the DoT to conduct flights starting by mid-June 2020 but were not given permission by their Chinese counterpart to do so.

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In a move to counteract uncompetitive conditions for United States-based carriers, the U.S. Department of Transportation will ban Chinese airlines from carrying passengers into the country from June 16: