The US is to ban passenger flights from China from 16 June, the Trump administration announced on Wednesday.
The Department of Transportation said it is punishing Beijing for refusing to let US airlines resume flights to China as its pandemic subsides.
It says the Chinese government is violating an agreement between the two countries for international travel by preventing United Airlines and Delta Air Lines from resuming the trans-oceanic flights. Those airlines had asked to resume service on June 1.
The Department of Transportation order applies to four airlines – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines – which have continued to fly between the two countries during the pandemic, although at reduced levels.
It needs final approval from US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused China of engaging in unfair trade, and in recent weeks criticised its handling of coronavirus and protests in Hong Kong.
More than 8.5 million passengers traveled on direct flights between the United States and China in 2018, the last year for which the Transportation Department has complete data. United flew about 17 percent of those passengers, second only to Air China’s more than 19 percent. Delta ranked fifth, behind China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, carrying just over 10 percent of passengers, according to New York Times.
Edited by staff