U.S. to block all flights to/from China

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that they would be banning all Chinese carriers from flying to the U.S. effective June 16, 2020.  The DOT's move, which was first conveyed on May 22, is in response to a Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) policy that had prevented U.S. carriers to operate between the two countries.


On March 26, 2020, the CAAC implemented a policy restricting each airline to operate only a single international passenger route to/from each foreign country per week.  Whereas U.S. carriers would have been able to work under this strict rule, the second important clause of the policy is that it was only granted to carriers that were operating international flights to China as of March 12, 2020.  By that time, all U.S. carriers had suspended all flights to China due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  So none of the U.S. carriers were even eligible for the "one flight per week rule", and thus they couldn't fly to China period.  Chinese carriers, however, were still flying between the two countries as of March 12, so they were and still are eligible to fly between the countries under the policy, unlike their U.S. counterparts.

Failed talks

On May 14, 2020, the DOT began discussions with the CAAC on their policy and to possibly remove the March 12 baseline rule.  Delta and United Airlines also appealed to the CAAC to resume flights on June 1, but were denied.  The CAAC would not budge on their policy, stating on May 25 that it applies equally "to all domestic and foreign carriers, being fair, equal and transparent.”

DOT response

In response to the CAAC's "zero access rule" for U.S. carriers between the two countries, the DOT came through on their promise today to also allow for zero flights for Chinese carriers.  So as of June 16, Chinese carriers will have the same operational privileges between the two countries as their U.S. counterparts: none.

Where this leaves us

Currently, only Chinese carriers are flying between the U.S. and China, and each carrier is only allowed one flight per week.  However, unless the DOT and CAAC are able to come to an agreement, all flying between the two largest economies in the world will come to a halt on June 16 or potentially earlier if President Trump chooses.

Quick thoughts

The two largest economies in the world have essentially been in a trade war for years now, so it's to no one's surprise that aviation has also been part of the battle.  Although we have seen recent signs of life, travel demand is still near its all-time relative low due to the pandemic, so commercial aviation between the two countries may not suffer drastically as a result of the flight bans, at least for the time being.  It'll be interesting to see how the DOT and CAAC come to the table and what will result from the negotiations.

From all of us at Flying for Fitness, please stay healthy during this trying time.  We hope you enjoyed this post.  Please consider visiting one of our sponsors by clicking on the advertisements.  Our sponsors pay us for customer visits and help us to keep the lights on.  Thanks!


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