President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday barred Chinese passenger carriers from flying to the United States starting on June 16 as it pressures Beijing to let USA air carriers resume flights amid simmering tensions between the world's two largest economies.
The Transportation Department said it would suspend passenger flights of four Chinese airlines to and from the United States starting June 16.
The decision was reportedly made in response to China's refusal to allow USA airlines to resume passenger service to Chinese airports. "Should the CAAC adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for US carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order", the US Department of Transportation said.
"We will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours", the department said in a separate statement.
According to the department, Beijing "remains unable" to say when it will revise its rules "to allow USA carriers to reinstate scheduled passenger flights".
The order is dated June 3 and goes into effect June 16 if Trump so orders, the Department of Transportation said in a statement.
Both Delta and United have put in requests to resume a limited number of nonstop flights to China. United said it looks forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China "when the regulatory environment allows us to do so".
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately comment.
The current situation stems from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in China a year ago.
Relations between the United States and China have gone south amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Trump administration blaming the virus on China and pulling its financial support from the World Health Organization for its perceived sympathies toward Beijing.
-China Civil Air Transport Agreement, which solidified aviation relations in 1980. United and Delta planned to start flying to China again in early May.
Administration officials have suggested charter flights have been used to circumvent Chinese government limits on flights. -China flights, as did most Chinese carriers.
United also plans to resume three routes to China as early as this month, pending regulatory approval.
The move is just the latest in the escalation of tensions between the two countries.
In January 2020, many airlines around the world suspended some or all of their China flights because of fears of spreading the coronavirus. That slightly increased in mid-March to 34 weekly flights, all operated by Chinese carriers.