The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today that it will ban all commercial flights to and from China beginning June 16.
The move is in response to the Chinese government refusing to allow U.S. carriers to resume service in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our overriding goal is not the perpetuation of this situation, but rather an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties will be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights,” the DOT’s rule read.
“Should the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order.”
In response, the CAAC today announced it would begin allowing all airlines to increase the number of international flights to two per week, conditional upon no passengers on their flights testing positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks, according to Reuters.
If five or more passengers on any one flight test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, the CAAC will bar the airline from services for a week. Airlines with 10 passengers or more who test positive, could be suspended for up to four weeks.
The move comes as major international airlines have been preparing to welcome travelers again for the summer season. Carriers including Delta and United had planned to resume service in China in mid-June, but were refused. This could present a problem for the airline industry, which is still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus.
The rule would directly impact operations of seven international carriers, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines.