US Bans Flights by Chinese Airlines

The United States will ban Chinese commercial airlines, in response to what the Trump administration has called a violation of aviation agreements. The ban will go into effect from mid-June, according to statements made yesterday. As a result of the measure, Chinese passenger flights will no longer be allowed to land on American soil.

Why Was the Ban Imposed?

On Wednesday, June 3, the Trump Administration announced a pending ban of all future Chinese airline passenger flights to the United States, the US Department of Transportation announced. The reason for the landing ban was that the government in China, for its part, had not permitted US airlines United Airlines and Delta Air Lines to resume their flights to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic after they requested to resume flights this week.

“US airlines requested passenger traffic to and from China to resume on June 1,” the Department of Transportation stated. “The Chinese government’s failure to approve these applications violates our aviation agreement.” According to the department, the ban on Chinese airlines is to enter into force on June 16. However, it can also be enforced earlier on the orders of President Trump – if wanted.

Nonetheless, the United States remained in communication with its Chinese counterpart regarding US and Chinese airlines so that bilateral rights could be fully exercised, the department also confirmed. In the meantime, Chinese airlines will be allowed to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as “the Chinese government allows ours,” according to the Department of Transportation.

Which Chinese Airlines Will Be Banned?

According to the latest government decree, the following Chinese airlines are currently affected by the ban: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

Prior to the global spread of the coronavirus, the US Department of Transportation said there had been more than 300 flights a week between the two countries. The number decreased rapidly; however after President Trump had issued an entry ban on Chinese people as one of his first significant steps to stop the spread of the virus in the United States.

Today, however, only one day after the US’s announcement, the signs of an air traffic dispute between the USA and China could be relaxed just as quickly as they had escalated. Reports earlier today confirmed, that Beijing had announced that foreign airlines would again be able to offer limited flights in the People’s Republic beginning from June 8.

Beijing’s Perspective

According to Beijing’s decision, foreign airlines can now offer a weekly flight to and from China. Similar to the situation in other countries, passengers must be tested for the virus when entering China. If no infection is known for three weeks, the number of flights is said to be increased to twice a week. These will likely include US airlines, against which China has not communicated a separate regulation.

The air traffic issue notwithstanding, many disputes between the two countries remain – from an ongoing trade dispute to dealing with Hong Kong to China as the origin of the corona pandemic. Here, President Trump continuous to accuse China of obscuring tactics in the outbreak of the coronavirus.

It thus remains to be seen whether China’s flight dispute is now settled. Even if both sides agreed in this matter, it is unlikely to change the current general conflict. What used to be the United States versus China in which the world’s last remaining hegemon tries to defend its throne against the rising power of China, has become an election vehicle for the White House.

The latter has eagerly been cultivating the image of China being the enemy. And as such, the enemy will continue to play a significant role in President Trump’s reelection campaign. One can thus rest assured, that, if the air traffic dispute can be put ad acta, Trump will exacerbate a different issue with Beijing.