The US Department of Transport (DOT) has backed off on a proposed ban against Chinese carriers travelling to the US, approving up to four flights per week from mainland China.
While the Trump administration first banned entry into the US by Chinese nationals in early February, it only recently threatened to halt incoming flights by Chinese airlines – with senior officials citing Beijing’s rejection of US airlines as a violation of a bilateral aviation treaty.
The U.S. Department of Transportation took regulatory action on June 3rd in response to the failure of China to permit U.S. carriers to perform scheduled passenger air services in accordance with China’s obligations under the U.S.-China Air Transport Agreement. (1/3)
— TransportationGov (@USDOT) June 5, 2020
However the order, due to take hold 16 June, was abandoned after China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) further eased international flight restrictions, allowing more carriers — including those from the US — to operate flights into the country.
The carriers will be initially permitted to operate two China-US flights per week each.
The DOT posted a statement on 15 June, saying that it “welcomed this action by the Chinese government as an important first step to fully restore air travel”.
The agency added that it will “continue to press for the full restoration of passenger air travel between the United States and China, in part to allow for the repatriation of Chinese students who have been unable to fly home due to the shortage of flights”.
United and Delta both praised the move, after unsuccessfully pressing the CAAC for permission to resume scheduled services in May.
“We are pleased to be re-entering the China market and are grateful to the US government for its diligent efforts to ensure fair access to China for US carriers,” a Delta spokesman said.
According to CNN, United looks to relaunch services to China “in the weeks ahead”, while American plans to serve Beijing and Shanghai by October.