WASHINGTON • The United States will permit Chinese passenger air carriers to operate two flights per week after Beijing said it would ease coronavirus-related restrictions to allow in more foreign carriers.
President Donald Trump’s administration had said last Wednesday that it planned to bar all Chinese passenger airlines from flying to the US by June 16, due to Beijing’s curbs on US carriers amid the pandemic.
The revised US Transportation Department order cuts in half the four weekly round-trip flights Chinese passenger carriers have been flying to the US and takes effect immediately.
The department said on Friday that if China takes further steps for US carriers it is “fully prepared to once again revisit the action”.
The notice added that the department is “troubled by China’s continued unilateral dictation of the terms of the US-China scheduled passenger air transportation market without respect for the rights of US carriers”. The announcement defuses a potential new flashpoint in the US-China relationship.
China’s announcement should allow US carriers to resume once-a-week flights into a city of their choice starting tomorrow, a fraction of what the US-China aviation agreement allows.
The limit affects US round-trip flights by Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. It is not immediately known which flights will be allowed to continue.
There are 152 flights scheduled from China to the US this month, including 92 on United Airlines and the rest on Chinese carriers, and 2,118 in July, according to aviation data provider Cirium.
In May, 84 flights flew from China to the US, down 95 per cent from 2019. It is unclear if US carriers will agree to fly just once a week to China when they have sought approval for two or three daily flights.