COVID-19 Special Coverage
Trump administration bans Chinese passenger flights

The US Department of Transportation on Wednesday indefinitely suspended all Chinese carriers from flying to and from the US, effective June 16.

This order most impacts Air China, China’s flag carrier airline, which frequently flies schedules between China and the US. “[This suspension permits] U.S. carriers to exercise the full extent of their bilateral right to conduct scheduled passenger air services to and from China,” said Joel Szabat, Assistant Secretary of Aviation and International Affairs, who signed the command.

CNN reports that this order came partially as a result of US airlines petitioning the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to resume flights to China after they were indefinitely suspended in January due to COVID-19 concerns. US airline revenues have suffered significantly as a result of the pandemic, and they have sought federal aid to keep their businesses afloat.

This order now gives American carriers the near-exclusive right to fly to China. Consequently, airline stocks hit three-month highs during Friday’s session.

On March 12, President Donald Trump indefinitely suspended all flights from Europe, and, on May 27, he suspended travel from Brazil. Neither order has been lifted.

This latest suspension falls in the midst of an ongoing trade dispute with China. On May 14 Trump threatened to delist Chinese businesses from US stock exchanges and has since inflamed tensions through Twitter, on which he claimed that “the incompetence of China, and nothing else, [did] this mass Worldwide killing [the COVID-19 pandemic].”

The Chinese airline suspension order claims that the US possesses unilateral power to lift or change the order. “These circumstances require the Department [of Transportation’s] action to restore a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers in the scheduled passenger service marketplace,” it says. “We … conclude that the public interest requires the suspension of all Chinese carrier scheduled passenger air services between the United States and China.”