U.S. To Permit Limited Chinese Airline Service

Credit: Nigel Howarth / AWST

WASHINGTON—The China-U.S. airline-service detente continued June 5 as the U.S. Transportation Dept. (DOT) scrapped a plan to ban Chinese passenger carriers in mid-June, approving a total of two weekly frequencies instead.

DOT’s order, effective immediately, permits one or two Chinese carriers to operate U.S. services. Six Chinese carriers are applying, or have already applied, for flights to the U.S.

China on June 4 revised a two-month-old policy related to managing international operations during the COVID-19 pandemic that effectively prohibited U.S. airlines from serving the country. The new policy approves one weekly frequency per carrier starting June 8. The figure can increase or decrease based on certain milestones related to novel coronavirus risk demonstrated by incoming passengers on the flights.

China’s previous policy led the U.S. to formally reject all active and proposed Chinese passenger airline schedules as of June 16. China’s latest move still does not meet current U.S. carrier demand. United Airlines alone plans to start four U.S.-China routes by mid-month, and Delta planned to resume flights as well.

“As a general matter, we are troubled by China’s continued unilateral dictation of the terms of the U.S.-China scheduled passenger air transportation market without respect for the rights of U.S. carriers under the agreement,” DOT said in its latest order. “However, should the CAAC adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to once again revisit” the situation.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.