U.S. accuses Beijing of not allowing Delta, United to fly passengers to China
The U.S. government late on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese air carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government.
The administration of President Donald Trump stopped short of imposing restrictions on Chinese air carriers but said talks with China had failed to produce an agreement.
The U.S. Transportation Department, which is trying to persuade China to allow the resumption of U.S. passenger airline service there, earlier this week briefly delayed a few Chinese charter flights for not complying with notice requirements.
In an order posted on a U.S. government website and seen by Reuters, the department noted Delta Air Lines and United Airlines want to resume flights to China in June, even as Chinese carriers have continued U.S. flights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order said Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines Holding Co and their subsidiaries must file schedules and other details of flights by May 27. The department warned it could find Chinese flights “contrary to applicable law or adversely affect the public interest.”
United declined to comment. The other U.S. and Chinese carriers, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) and China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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The department said in a statement it has “protested this situation to the Chinese authorities, repeatedly objecting to China’s failure to let U.S. carriers fully exercise their rights and to the denial to U.S. carriers of their right to compete on a fair and equal basis with Chinese carriers” and called the situation “critical.”
The CAAC in late March said Chinese airlines could maintain just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any given country and that carriers could fly no more than the number of flights they were flying on March 12, according to the U.S. order.
But because U.S. passenger airlines had stopped all flights by March 12, the CAAC notice “effectively precludes U.S. carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to China,” the department said.
CAAC told the U.S. government during a May 14 call that China is considering removing the March 12 schedule pre-condition but the “restriction to once-weekly service on one route to China would remain in place,” the order said.
Earlier on Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department added 33 Chinese companies and institutions to an economic blacklist for alleged human rights violations and to address U.S. national security concerns involving weapons of mass destruction and other military activities.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by William Mallard)
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