03 June, 2020

President Trump to ban Chinese Airlines from flying into the US

                In a move likely to cause major retaliation and tension, the US President Donald Trump has instigated a travel ban on Chinese passenger aircraft from flying to the United States from 16th June.

Tensions are simmering away to an almost boiling point between the two nations, as the US wants to put pressure on China to allow US airlines to restart air services.  The stance by the U.S. Department of Transportation under Trump's instruction is aimed at penalizing China for what the U.S. says is failing to comply with an existing agreement on flights between the two countries. 

This order applies to Sichuan Airline, Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and  Xiamen Airlines.

The Trump administration accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government.

China “remains unable” to say when it will revise its rules “to allow U.S. carriers to reinstate scheduled passenger flights,” a formal order signed by the Transportation Department’s top aviation official Joel Szabat said. “We will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” the department said in a separate statement.

The U.S. has the highest number of Coronavirus COVID-19 deaths and infections and is seen by China as doing little to prevent the spread of the virus as officials try to open up businesses before it has been controlled.  

Delta Air Lines,  itself a big supporter of Republican politicians welcomed the stance taken by the administration, “we support and appreciate the U.S. government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness.”

United's response was more measured and diplomatic, it issued a statement advising that it looks forward to restarting passenger services between the United States and China “when the regulatory environment allows us to do so.”

Whilst there have been few scheduled flights operating, there have been a number of charter or special flights by the Chinese airlines- mainly to repatriate stranded citizens and students from the U.S.

Trump's administration will also be blocking these operations, the Transportation Department order said it believes Chinese carriers are using charter flights to circumvent China’s limit of one flight per carrier per week to the United States and “further increasing their advantage over U.S. carriers in providing U.S.-China passenger services.”

Currently, the ban does not apply to cargo flights, especially as both United and Delta are operating a number of weekly rotations to and from China - mostly carrying medical and personal protective equipment.

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