US Airlines Get Permission To Restart China Flights

Filed Under: Misc.

Aviation authorities in the US and China have had big disagreements about the extent to which airlines should be allowed to offer service between the two countries. Some real progress has been made now, to the point that we will see US airlines resume flights between the two countries.

The aviation battle between the US & China

To briefly summarize, there has been quite a spat between the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC). The two countries have a bilateral aviation agreement, so all service needs to be mutually agreed upon.

Since March, the CAAC has had a policy essentially blocking all US air carriers from resuming passenger flights between the United States and China, despite the fact that Chinese airlines could maintain (limited) service between the two countries. Chinese authorities were essentially created an arbitrary rule and started enforcing it.

For a bit more background on this saga, see my previous posts:

Authorities in the US & China have negotiated air service agreements

US airlines can resume 4x weekly flights to China

This week the CAAC has notified the DOT that US airlines are approved to operate four weekly flights between the United States and China. As a result, the DOT is amending its policy for Chinese airlines, which can now also each operate four weekly flights between China and the United States.

The DOT is continuing to press for full restoration of passenger air travel between the two countries. As it’s described, this is in part to allow for the repatriation of Chinese students who have been unable to fly home due to the shortage of flights. As the CAAC allows more flights by US carriers, the DOT will reciprocate.

Among US airlines we can expect that Delta Air Lines will be the first to resume flights to China, followed by United Airlines. Both of these airlines should resume service in the coming weeks.

Delta will soon be resuming flights to China

Bottom line

US airlines will now each be able to operate four weekly flights to mainland China, and we can expect both Delta and United to launch this service shortly.

It took quite some negotiating to get to this point, as the CAAC didn’t want to allow US airlines to offer any service. However, after the DOT revoked permission for Chinese airlines to fly to the US, they seemed to be more willing to negotiate.

  1. @TravelinWilly. I think you’re being sarcastic, in which case, I beg to differ. This not people looking to go on vacation. There are tons of native Chinese people here in America who are desperate to get home. Just between H1B workers (many of whom have been laid off along with the rest of us) and college students, it’s a huge amount. Due to the shortage of flights, people are paying several thousand dollars for one way economy tickets, and the flights are packed to the gills. It’s one of the few profitable routes still being flown. China’s trying to monopolize this route, favoring Chinese airlines with more flights than they’re allowing US airlines to fly. Not only does that keep more of the profits for Chinese airlines, it reduces the total number of flights available for people trying to get back home.

    So yes, in this case, playing hardball to get them to open more flights is a win-win: more people get to go home, and US airlines get a bigger share of the revenue (not that Chinese airlines’ flights will all of a sudden be going out empty just because United and Delta add a few more flights).

  2. @Lune. Saying “China’s trying to monopolize this route and keep more of the profits for Chinese airlines” is none sense, for each Chinese airlines, they can only be only 4 flights to US per month!!! that will dramatically increase their profit??? remember they have to flight outbound empty and all pilots/flight attenders have to quarantine 14 days, plus China domestic flight is back to 60% now these US flight profit means nothing to them……..and most Chinese students fly to Europe/Japan/Korea to back home so all those foreign airlines get the Transoceanic profit.

    In reality China is just not happy with US airlines to cut the route first in early Feb, they cut the route because they are unionized? so how these US citizens can go back US? two ways:
    1. fly Chinese airlines China-US so Chinese pilots/flight attenders healthy not important because they have to fly US people back home?
    2.Go through Japan/Korea, but in the end these passengers may still fly US airlines Transoceanic route, so US airlines unionized attenders may still get infection, isn’t that ironic?

  3. I thought it’s 4 weekly flights in total (instead of for each chinese airline)? And reciprocally, Delta and United can each operate 2 weekly flights to China.

  4. Each Chinese airline can fly one flight per week from China to a foreign country.

    China Eastern, Air China, China Southern and Xiamen are flying now to US. Same for Canada except Sichuan is flying there as well.

    Delta is routing through Seoul to avoid any potential quarantines of flight crew. I’m sure United will go through either Seoul or Japan.

    These flights are a gold mine. Chinese airlines are charging $3700 one way to fly to US or Canada and charging close to $6500 one way return. In coach

    All airlines are owned by CAAC so they don’t want any competition. I know Delta and United will charge a premium for this as well.

    For Americans trying to leave China, this will be a godsend because it is very hard to get home now. Japan will only allow flights from China to go to Narita. Guess what, all US airlines moved to Haneda and you can’t transit between Narita and Haneda because you can’t enter Japan

    There is very limited service to Incheon as well

    I know several expats that are connecting through Amsterdam to get home.

  5. Can US residents go home via Guam?
    Now that AKL has flights outbound, is that not a second choice??

  6. NZ is not allowing transit. Our borders are closed to all but NZ Citizens and their families, Permanent residents, and Australian Citizens ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

  7. Let’s make one thing clear. The Chinese border is not open and we don’t know when it will re-open.

    As other comments indicate, there are enough Chinese looking to get home and enough Americans looking to do the same that there is enough demand for these flights.

    Any foreigner looking to enter China at this time needs a special visa issued after the border closed. Two pre-conditions are: 1. that you have a current visa for China (e.g. cannot be a new applicant). 2. That the purpose of your visit is of work or business relating to high impact for China.

    Delta’s plan for use of their Seoul hub is very cleaver, not just because of flight crews, but it can offer more flights to the US that way. United does not seem to be using one of their partner hubs.

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