As tensions escalate between the United States and China, the Trump Administration plans to block Chinese airlines from serving the United States. But the goal is not to block Chinese airlines, but to ensure great connectivity between the two nations. So is this all a bluff?
U.S. Announces Ban On Chinese Airlines Effective June 16th
Blaming a violation of the bilateral right to conduct scheduled passenger service between the USA and Mainland China, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would suspend scheduled passenger options of all Chinese carriers to the USA. The move impacts the following carriers:
- Air China
- Beijing Capital Airlines
- China Eastern Airlines
- China Southern Airlines
- Hainan Airlines
- Sichuan Airlines
- Xiamen Airlines
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Taiwan-based China Airlines or EVA Airways will not be impacted.
The DOT points to the U.S.-China Civil Air Transport Agreement, which holds:
“Each Party shall take all appropriate action to ensure that there exist fair and equal rights for the designated airlines of both Parties to operate the agreed services on the specified routes so as to achieve equality of opportunity, reasonable balance and mutual benefit.”
China’s new policy only allows airlines that were operating between the United States and China on March 12, 2020 to operate one scheduled flight per week. During the peak of COVID-19, U.S. airlines suspended all service to China while Chinese airlines maintained a small number of flights to the USA. As a result, China’s “neutral” policy permits only Chinese carriers to fly between the two countries.
Noting that such a policy is represents unreasonable arbitrariness, the U.S. has now issued the flight ban. The DOT will also closely scrutinize Chinese charter flights, which is alleges may have been used as a workaround to the 1x-weekly flight limit.
Is Chinese Airline Ban A Bluff Or A Calculated Move Meant To Restore Air Service?
Folks, this isn’t about COVID-19, despite what the 共匪 or 五毛 warriors might have us believe. It’s not like Chinese citizens, including the thousands of students in the United States, only fly on Chinese airlines. It is perfectly justifiable for China to block foreign visitors, including U.S. citizens, while still allowing U.S. carriers to operate flights. That’s what the treaty demands.
But China and the US are fighting over COVID-19, Hong Kong, and trade, with both nations grasping at straws to save face. This is just the latest distraction.
The U.S. move is justified. It is simply meant to even the balance between U.S. and Chinese carriers. The arbitrary baseline date of March 12th is unjustifiable. Concerns over COVID-19 or civil unrest in the USA are simply a distraction.
Is this a bluff? Will the U.S. backdown if China holds firm? Initially, I’d say the answer is unlikely. But with COVID-19 largely under control in Asia and the U.S. economy still dependent upon foreign trade, we will need transport between the United States and China. A ban cannot go on for long. In that sense, any sort of ban will likely be short-lived.
Here’s the plan. The U.S. has now blocked Chinese carriers from flying to the Untied States. Hopefully, Beijing will loosen its policy and allow U.S. carriers to operate on the same terms as Chinese carriers between the USA and the Mainland. Delta and United wish to resume service…that will hardly rock the boat. And in the meantime, Cathay Pacific should brace for a sudden surge in demand.