The Associated Press reported Thursday that President Donald Trump is moving to block Chinese airlines from operating in the United States.
In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it had “issued an order suspending the scheduled passenger flights of Chinese carriers to and from the United States.”
According to the AP, the measure came “in response to China’s failure to let United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resume flights to China this month.” The flights had been suspended due to concerns over COVID-19, the AP noted.
The Transportation Department’s Wednesday statement provided details about the order, which will take effect on June 16. “This action responds to the failure of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to permit U.S. carriers to exercise their bilateral rights to conduct passenger air service to China,” the statement read.
The department added: “Currently, four Chinese carriers and no U.S. carriers operate scheduled passenger flights between the United States and China. U.S. carriers have asked to resume passenger service, beginning June 1st. The Chinese government’s failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement.”
The Transportation Department went on to say that it would “continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both U.S. and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights.”
“In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” the department’s statement concluded.
The move comes as tensions between the two nations have escalated in recent months over trade disputes as well as China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reacting to the measure, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based airline Delta said the company is backing the Trump administration on this one. “We support and appreciate the U.S. government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness,” Delta’s Lisa Hanna said, according to the AP.
A spokesperson for United Airlines said the company looks “forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China when the regulatory environment allows us to do so,” the AP reported.
According to CNBC, “U.S. and Chinese airlines operated 325 flights a week between the two countries” in January. Now, that number sits closer to two or three dozen flights each week, the AP noted — and that doesn’t fly with Trump.
Once again, it looks like the president is putting America first.