DOT Allows Chinese Carriers to Double Frequencies to U.S.

 - August 19, 2020, 10:16 AM

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday issued an order allowing the four Chinese airlines performing scheduled passenger services to the U.S. to double the frequency of their service, from one each to two each, following China’s approval on Monday for United Airlines and Delta Air Lines to increase their respective service frequencies from two to four.

As a result, United Airlines announced on Tuesday that it would double its number of round trips to Shanghai Pudong Airport from San Francisco through Seoul to four a week starting September 4. Delta said it would add one weekly round trip each from Detroit and Seattle to Shanghai via Seoul starting on August 24.

The increases signal a further relaxation of travel restrictions between the countries after the DOT issued an order on June 3 that barred Chinese carriers from entry into the U.S. effective June 16 in response to China’s failure to grant entry approval to United and Delta. The Chinese ban resulted from a clause in an order limiting its own airlines to one weekly flight to any country and foreign airlines one weekly passenger flight into China based on a particular airline’s March 12 schedule. However, U.S. carriers suspended passenger flights into China in early February due to declining demand, meaning the Chinese order prevented them from reinstating service, while Chinese airlines could maintain service to and from each foreign market served as of the March 12 baseline date, including the U.S.  

A day after the U.S. ban, on June 4, the CAAC said it would modify its policy on international passenger flights to allow more foreign carriers to resume service on a once-a-week basis, including United and Delta, which each subsequently gained approval to fly two round trips a week. On June 5, the U.S. lifted its ban on the Chinese carriers, effectively reinstating approvals of a portion of existing schedules filed by Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen Airlines.

However, the DOT did not completely restore their landing rights because, said the department in its June 5 ruling, the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s revised notice continued to preclude U.S. carriers from fully exercising their rights under the 1980 civil aviation agreement between the two countries.