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China May Now Allow Foreign Airlines to Resume Flights After Threat from the United States

China May Now Allow Foreign Airlines to Resume Flights After Threat from the United States

China’s civil aviation authority said on Thursday that 95 foreign airlines would be allowed to apply for permission to restart flights to the country having been banned as part of China’s efforts to stop reimportation of the novel Coronavirus. The announcement comes a day after the Trump administration said it was considering its own ban on Chinese airlines flying to the United States in a tit-for-tat move against China’s continued ban on U.S. airlines.

Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines suspended services to China earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 outbreak but recently announced that they wanted to restart a limited number of flights. Delta is hoping to resume flights via Seoul to Shanghai from Seattle and Detroit, while United wants to fly from San Francisco to Shanghai and Beijing and from Newark, New Jersey, to Shanghai.

Both airlines had been rebuffed by the Chinese authorities leading to the intervention from the U.S. Department of Transport. A spokesperson for the DOT said China was breaking an aviation agreement signed between the two countries back in 1980 and that talks to restore flights were continuing.

“In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The ban is slated to take effect from June 16 but White House sources have claimed the ban could be introduced even sooner. Four Chinese airlines are currently flying to the United States and would be affected by the ban: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

“We support and appreciate the US government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness,” a Delta spokesperson was quoted as saying in response to the news. Meanwhile, United simply said, “we look forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China when the regulatory environment allows us to do so.”

China’s aviation authorities did not detail which airlines would be allowed to apply to resume services. The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) said its current proposals would increase the number of weekly international flights to and from the country by 50 from June 8.

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