The Department of Transportation restrictions will take effect on June 16, but could be enacted earlier if President Donald Trump decides to do so.
Hours after the announcement, China’s civil aviation regulator issued a notice Thursday that would effectively allow U.S. carriers to resume limited services in the country.
The Department of Transportation said the Chinese government is violating an agreement between the two countries for international travel by preventing United Airlines and Delta Air Lines from resuming transoceanic flights. Those airlines requested to resume service on June 1.
The Department of Transportation order said that “Chinese aviation authorities have not allowed US airlines” to operate the routes they previously flew.
“The Department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so that American and Chinese operators can fully exercise their bilateral rights,” the department said in a statement. “In the meantime, we will allow Chinese airlines to operate the same number of regular passenger flights that the Chinese government allows ours.”
Since late March, to curb imported Covid-19 cases, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) had only allowed foreign passenger carriers to operate a weekly flight to China according to its mid-March schedule. US airlines were excluded as they had suspended all flights from China by then when the coronavirus was devastating the country.
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines wanted to restart daily flights between the United States and China in early June, but the CAAC did not respond to their requests, according to a previous DOT statement. Meanwhile, several Chinese passenger airlines have continued to fly between the two countries during the pandemic, although their flights are also limited to once a week.
In its latest advisory on Thursday, CAAC effectively removed the mid-March benchmark, but maintained the weekly frequency limit for all airlines. The agency also requires carriers to comply with strict Chinese health regulations, announcing a mechanism to punish airlines whose passengers test positive for Covid-19 upon landing in China, while rewarding those without positive cases on board for three weeks. followed with an additional weekly frequency.
The Chinese regulator also suggested that airlines could increase flights to certain countries if the risks are considered low. The new rules take effect on June 8.