The Trump administration will ban all flights from China to the U.S. on Chinese carriers starting later this month, regulators announced Wednesday, the latest and boldest move yet in a regulatory tit-for-tat over flights between the two countries.
The ban on airlines like Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen from flying to the U.S. is set to take effect June 16. Reuters first reported the news.
It follows weeks of bickering between the Chinese and U.S. governments – not just over the world's response to the coronavirus outbreak that began in China, but over flights between the two countries as airlines and the travel industry try to slowly restart. Those flights have been a sticking point.
President Donald Trump's administration implemented a Chinese travel ban in late January, barring non-U.S. citizens from entering the country if they had been in China within the last 14 days. American, Delta, and United dropped all their flights to China – but major Chinese airlines kept flying.
For weeks, Delta and United have tried to restart flights to China – Delta wants to start flying to Shanghai (PVG) later this month. But the airlines haven't gotten signoff from the Chinese government, with U.S. officials accusing the Chinese of “making it impossible” to do so, CNN reports.
Now, the U.S. is doing the same. By blocking Chinese flights altogether, the U.S. is trying to ratchet up pressure on China to play nice.
If the ban takes place, it would leave no direct flights between the two countries – a major problem for businesses, foreign exchange students, and travelers alike. And U.S. airline and Trump administration officials who spoke with Reuters suggest Trump could move up the ban even earlier in June.
But the goal is not to stop flights between the U.S. and China – it's to get the other side to blink first.
“Should the (China's aviation regulator) adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order,” the U.S. Department of Transportation said.
This is getting ugly, and it could get even worse. China and the U.S. are in the midst of a game of regulatory chicken with no sign of an end in sight … yet.