China-US aviation spat ratchets down as Washington OKs more flights
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The back-and-forth aviation battle between the United States and China appears to be letting up.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new transpacific aviation policy late Monday that will peg the maximum number of flights to the U.S. by Chinese airlines to the number of flights Beijing is allowing U.S. carriers to operate to China.
“As the Chinese government allows more flights by U.S. carriers, we will reciprocate,” the DOT said in announcing the policy.
It’s the latest development in an ongoing war of words over air service between the two countries that only now seems to be easing.
The most dramatic episode came earlier this month when Washington said it would bar Chinese carriers from serving the U.S. entirely, a move that came after the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) used a technicality in its COVID-19 flight policy to effectively bar U.S. airlines from restoring service to China.
The CAAC announced an easing of its rules the very next day, saying U.S. airlines would be able to resume limited service between the two countries with a schedule of one round-trip flight per week for approved carriers. At the time, only Delta and United had announced plans to resume China service — meaning that the Chinese policy would have allowed a total of two U.S.-China round-trips a week on U.S. carriers.
The DOT, however, said that China’s new policy was still too restrictive and again updated its permissions for Chinese carriers, effectively reducing their transpacific schedules to a cumulative total of two weekly flights, matching what China was allowing U.S. carriers in its latest update.
That policy was set to take effect Tuesday. But the DOT’s Monday announcement confirmed the CAAC’s revised its policy that now will allow U.S. airlines to operate two round-trip flights per week, instead of one.
So far, with only Delta and United having announced plans to restore service to China, that means there could be four round-trip flights by U.S. airlines to China. Likely not coincidentally, that matches what’s currently being flown by China-based carriers, with four airlines each providing one weekly round-trip flight to the U.S.
While the DOT said it applauds the relaxing of restrictions, its position is that service should be completely restored to pre-coronavirus levels. “The Department will continue to press for the full restoration of passenger air travel between the United States and China,” it said in a statement.
Delta, which had hoped to resume its China service earlier this month, now said it hoped to do so next week. The carrier told Reuters that it would fly two flights from Seattle to Shanghai next week, with each stopping in Seoul en route. In July, Delta said it would continue its schedule of two weekly flights, though one would originate in Seattle and the other in Detroit. Both of those flights also are scheduled to operate with a stop in Seoul. It was unclear when United might restart service following the latest DOT-CAAC updates.
For now, however, there is a limited pool of people who would even be allowed to take the U.S.-China nonstops. Foreign nationals remain prohibited from entering China, so the new flights will only be open to Chinese citizens.
Featured photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.