In refusing to allow U.S. carriers to resume air service to
China, the Transportation Department says China is violating their bilateral air services
China’s current ban on U.S. airlines stems from the Civil
Aviation Authority of China’s March 26 decision to limit foreign airlines to
operating just one weekly route to China in an effort to prevent Covid-19
spread. However, only airlines that were still flying to China as of March 12
were allowed to offer that weekly route. U.S. airlines suspended their China
service in February.
As part of the March 26 order, CAAC also limited service by
each Chinese airline to just one weekly route to any foreign country.
In its regulatory filing, the DOT said that CAAC’s March 26
notice violates the U.S-China aviation agreement by creating the
once-weekly capacity limitation and by giving more favorable treatment to
Chinese carriers than to U.S. carriers. The department said it has repeatedly
raised those objections with CAAC.
China’s block on U.S. carriers continues even as it allows
Chinese airlines to connect the two countries, the DOT said. The DOT said that
United and Delta have stated their desire to resume China service in the next
few weeks. Each have submitted applications for service reinstatement to CAAC.
In response to China’s block on U.S. carriers, the DOT will
more closely oversee the service of Chinese carriers to the U.S. The DOT said Air
China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and
Xiamen Airlines must file their existing schedules with the department by
In addition, the carriers must file plans for new service 30
days in advance. The carriers must provide information on routes, departure and
arrival times, service frequency and aircraft types in the filings. The DOT
said it will use those filings to determine whether operation of those flights
“may be contrary to applicable law or adversely affect the public interest.”
In a press briefing Monday, China Ministry of Foreign
Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said the country’s Covid-19 air service policies
are, “open, impartial and transparent.”
“China opposes any possible U.S. disruption of or
restriction on Chinese airlines' normal passenger flight operations,” Lijian
said, according to the ministry’s website.
The flare-up between the DOT and CAAC comes amid a general
ratcheting up of tensions between the U.S. and China.