In early-June 2020, tensions between the United States and China spiked when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) indicated its plans to ban Chinese airlines from entering the country effective June 16, 2020. Now, it seems like the tensions have fallen to a new low, as the DoT announced that it will allow a significant increase in capacity for China-based air transport companies.
On June 15, the Department indicated that Chinese airlines would be able to operate four round-trip weekly flights, effective immediately. Previously, the DoT allowed carriers from the east side of the Pacific Ocean to operate two weekly round-trip itineraries, according to the Department’s filings.
The DoT still believes that the CAAC “continues to preclude U.S. carriers from fully exercising their rights,” despite the fact that the Chinese aviation authority has previously granted permission for U.S. based airlines to reinstate service is “important first step toward restoring a fair and equal opportunity for U.S. carriers to compete in the U.S.-China passenger market.”
However, permission to increase capacity can be amended, modified or revoked at “any time and without hearing.”
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have indicated plans to resume services to China as soon as they got the regulatory approval. American Airlines’ newest schedule update showcases a resumption of service to China from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) starting October 25, 2020.
The DoT’s ban was based on the fact China-based passenger airlines were flying eastwards more than they were allowed to, in addition to the fact that U.S. airlines were not allowed to fly into China at all. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) acted quickly and eased its restrictions, as it allowed airlines that had not operated flights into the country on or after March 12, 2020, to resume services with governmental approval.