The US & China Aviation Battle Continues

Filed Under: Misc.

Update: An agreement was finally reached, and US airlines can offer 4x weekly flights between the US and China.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) are engaged in quite the battle, which is progressing at a fast pace.

What happened so far this week

If you’re not caught up on what has happened until now, see these two posts:

To briefly summarize:

  • The CAAC is only allowing each Chinese airline to operate a single roundtrip flight each week to the US, and in theory is only allowing each US airline to operate a single roundtrip flight each week to China; four Chinese airlines are operating flights, so there are four roundtrips per week
  • The CAAC argued that US airlines couldn’t fly to China because they didn’t have any service to China as of mid-March, and the CAAC rather arbitrarily argued that only airlines flying to China in mid-March could resume flights
  • The DOT threatened to ban Chinese airlines from flying to the US, and within hours the CAAC backtracked, and allowed each US airline to restart once weekly service to China

The problem at this point is that US airlines want to be able to operate more than a single weekly flight to China, given that the economics of once weekly service aren’t great. The DOT has just issued a ruling that will perhaps cause the CAAC to reconsider their stance.

Chinese airlines will need to reduce service to the US

With the latest negotiating tactic from the DOT, Chinese airlines will only be able to operate two weekly flights to the US total:

  • The DOT argues that only two US airlines (Delta and United) want to fly to China right now, and China is restricting them each to one roundtrip per week, for a total of two roundtrips per week
  • China has four airlines flying to the US, each able to operate one roundtrip flight, for a total of four roundtrips
  • The DOT is making the argument that it’s unfair that Chinese airlines operate four roundtrips while US airlines only operate two roundtrips, given that the agreement is supposed to offer balance
  • Therefore the DOT is limiting Chinese airlines to a total of two roundtrip flights per week to the US, and the CAAC can decide which airline(s) will get permission to operate those services

Bottom line

This is quite a negotiation process between aviation authorities in the US and China. Essentially this comes down to US airlines wanting more access to China, and the DOT essentially petitioning on their behalf.

I do think the DOT is in the right here for at least trying to argue this, given the policies we’ve seen the CAAC try to implement.

  1. You really linked to a troubling article that says: “This is not new. White Americans have a long, storied history of violence and destruction in this country.” ???

    Historically you’ve been great at staying neutral when it comes to sensitive topics. Huge miss here, and incredibly concerning. It’s not okay to make racist statements against anybody, including white people.

  2. Then again Air China and UA are partners as are DL and China Eastern and Xiamen Most foreigners are prohibited from travel to the US anyhow , so unless the clown in charge of the kakistocracy lifts the ban and there is an end to civil unrest , and covid declines , frankly the tourist industry has been decimated

  3. @ Lucky, under such circumstances, I think both will be given to China Southern, and deploy their A380 which now they are flying PKX-LHR, China Southern is deploying widebodies now after the rules in late March, even to Singapore they fly A330, which they used to use 737 and A320 all the time.

  4. @Sel , d

    what are you talking about ??
    I didn’t see anything in this article that says that.

  5. @D3 – there’s a link at the top of all pages on OMAAT. Very troubling, extremist article – says white people are violent, calls for defunding the police, and more. No idea why Ben posted. Very out of character and concerning.

  6. Out of all the articles Ben could have posted as the banner on the page, it’s quite troubling the chosen one is so extremist and dividing. Not what we need.

  7. @ Sel, d

    OK. I clicked on that link last week and wasn’t interested so I moved on. You made it sound as if that was a statement written within the article.

  8. Completely agree with Sel, D.
    What the actual duck? That article is way out of line. It is of course right to oppose any kind of racism and make sure that people are held accountable for their actions. But defending arson and calling for the abolishment of the police? Holy cow.
    When there’s an Islamist terror attack, we emphasize that we cannot blame it on “all Muslims” and we don’t want Muslims to apologize for something the acts of individuals they had nothing to do with.
    But when it’s against white people, it’s suddenly free reign?
    Jesus Christ. I can only hope it was Ben’s intern who added the link to that article.

  9. I don’t think DOT arguing this is fair neither is your argument. At least American is also allowed to resume their flights to China under the relaxed CAAC regulation if they want to but they don’t. That’s not CAAC’s problem.

    The reward and punishment also could make that UA and DL being able to operate one more flight each per week to China, and does that mean DOT will revise their policy weekly and see if UA and DL can operate two flights to China, then increase the quota on Chinese carriers, to make it fair?

    I feel like DOT is just doing some nonsense in this further battle to flex its muscle. CAAC shouldn’t be responsible for making the once-weekly flight by UA or DL to be financially viable.

  10. Agree that the link is out of place and extremist. Ben, please remove it and replace it with a true call for respect and understanding.

  11. I enjoy reading this post and related ones, and fully support Lucky’s opinion. If you don’t agree, don’t read, as nobody asks.

  12. I just went and read that article since a bunch of people are whining about it. It seems to be pretty balanced, and aims to introduce people to ideas they hadn’t considered, if read in good faith.

    Get over your discomfort. It’s an historical fact that lynchings were (are) a thing. And every day these protests go on there’s a new video of police assaulting a senior citizen or gunning down a restaurant owner.

    Keep it there, Ben.

  13. Ben, having met you personally I can say it’s out of character for you to post that link. I enjoy the articles you post, but this is not appropriate.

    Please don’t discuss politics on your site, or encourage causes not related to travel. It’s okay to discuss politics when it directly relates to changes in government/airline travel policies, as it will help educate you readers. But this has zero information value, and will just inflame a lot of readers.

    Please, please, please take that link down. You are better than this.

  14. @Luke – Balanced, LOL!

    And I’m not whining. I’m pointing out that extremist articles like the one posted are harmful to the cause they are attempting to improve upon.

  15. People acting like it’s an OMAAT article. It’s only a link. Who cares ? I barely noticed it.

  16. @Sel, D

    It is a simple fact for whoever went to history classes. So easy for many comments here to blame other nations based on their pure imagination and media brainwash while extremely hard to accept the dark history of their own country?

    And If you guys think the link is not appropriate because of the politics, y’all should have already jumped out at all other politics related post here. Double-standard at its peak.

  17. @Colin – Imbalanced would be calling us white devils. The article doesn’t do that. It’s objectively true that over the history of this country, a disproportionate amount of violence has been done to black people by white people. I can’t even fathom how you could argue otherwise. It’s only in the Fox News echo chamber that stating this explicitly is “imbalanced.”

  18. Thank you for posting the link on the banner. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything the author suggested/ stated, there’s def truth in it. It’s a worthwhile read and give everyone something to chew on. How you react to it will def depend on what generation you are in and what country you are from and currently live in, etc.

  19. The article is trying to encourage people to understand there’s a problem, and everyone knows nearly every country around the world has a very checkered history. The US is no different.

    Even if you believe there are no racial issues, be objective and open-minded, get involved with those that believe there such issues are systemic, and try to understand what drives those beliefs.

    And, at the least, seek to understand (even if you don’t participate) why those people feel such a need to come together and solve what they see is a massive problem, rather than trying to bury the significant conversation that is going on in our country right now.

    Keep it up Ben

  20. @Luke, regardless of whether or not what you say is true, it has no place on a blog about travel. We do know what Ben’s personal views on politics are from things he has said in other posts. Whenever you talk politics you are guaranteed to piss off 50% of your readers. It’s a poor business decision to talk politics on a non-political site.

  21. I think China’s probably fine with this restriction. The main purpose of CAAC’s policy is to control the number of COVID19 cases coming aboard. Currently there are 4 CN flights each week between US and CN, after this it is still 2(US)+2(CN). I dont think they want to expand from 4 to 8 when there are still tens of thousands of cases in US everyday. Xiamen Airlines and Air China are probably giving up their flights.

  22. If you don’t like the banner, don’t click it.

    If you don’t like the blog, don’t read it.

    Start your own blog and make your own rules, but this is Lucky’s blog so he can link and write whatever he wants.

  23. this farce between China and US may never end before something more important (not aviation actually) is solved.
    No matter what, it’s always normal people that suffer most in this.

  24. @Sel, d: let’s focus on the china us airline spat here. Comment about this somewhere more relevant.

    some required homework reading for you bud:
    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

  25. @Lucky – Ben, I love OMAAT, donated to OneTreeAtATime, always make an effort to send people that ask me for a good miles/points resource your way as opposed to The Paid Guy, but that link on the top is just too much.

    @JMM – What Germany did in WWII really must never be forgotten. Which can be done without blaming the descendants of people who did it. But if any of them want to Make Germany Great Again, then reminding them of that history is fair game.

  26. AA is allowed to resume their flights to China but they don’t want to. That’s not CAAC’s problem.

  27. @Rober thanks for assuming my race. I discuss racism, especially with my friends that are POC. One thing that’s problematic with your groupthink is that it’s now socially acceptable to say things like White Fragility, White Hatred, White Violence – while saying anything less than positive about a minority race is considered racist and you’ll lose your career, friends, and sometimes family. You’re normalizing racism against white people, and that’s not okay. You’re part of the problem.

  28. @ Sel, D. There is a long history of white violence, it is historical fact. You don’t need to be so offended. Saying “White Fragility” does not make you racist against white people but might explain why people like you have such trouble understanding with and reckoning with the more shameful parts of US history. If you don’t want to think about it because it makes you feel bad, that is fine but don’t attack people for trying to gain deeper understanding

  29. That link is quite an uncomfortable read and I’m black (not American though), however, I realize that people need to have such uncomfortable discussions. Those who are privileged may never understand the agressions faced by minorities. Hence when women speak about ills perpetrated by men, it’s not because they hate men, and we all know that saying “men are evil” while a wrong generalization doesn’t really take the power away from men, they still run the world (despite what Beyonce may say). Wome are still raped and blamed for it. Neither does saying “White Fragility” cause any major harm to whites cos you still hold the power. I’ve had discussions with white friends and realize, how oblivious they often are to the inequalities but recognize it’s not their fault and they should not be penalized for it, however it’s better they are aware of it. @Sel cos saying anything bad about a minority eg black, muslim, Latino could actually lead to death, while calling a police about a a white may not have similar outcomes regardless of how evil you paint the person. Similar issues faced by LGBT and other minorities. I really hope and pray for healing in the world, and why I’d rather not have the link there, you don’t really have to click on it, and for all you know this may just be Ben having the same conversations with himself not necessarily agreeing with everything in the post. Just like his personal debate about traveling in June, some will hate it and some will agree, and he may do it while aware of all the negatives. It’s really complex

  30. Great link Lucky! White people are the problem 100% and its time they pay reparations! For far too long Lucky has used his white privilege to fly in 1st class denying a minority of a seat on most occasions.
    When complaining about the champagne tasting like cat piss there is thinly veiled racism against the POC staff on most flights boarded by Mr. OMAAT himself. I have often thought that poor flight reviews came from flights that were staffed by POC and that Lucky has contributed to the culture of white supremacy.

    I truly hope that Lucky can see how he has caused aggression and contributed to the problem by denying others seats in J and F. Perhaps Lucky can step down and appoint a black trip reviewer….if they ever let us travel again.

  31. @Ken – I don’t agree with everything you say, and that’s perfectly okay. Thank you for a thoughtful response.

  32. After reading all these negative comments about the article, and I went and read the article, which I previously had not read. I don’t agree with all of it, but I found it to be very informative and not at all offensive. Most importantly, I found it to accurately reflect the views of some of my black friends. It was good to see a well-written summary in the midst of all the sound-bites that have been flying around this week. Thanks for posting the link, Ben! Keep challenging us to make America a better place.

  33. @Charlie – All for making America a better place. We can do better, always.

    The article is irresponsible. It pushes for defunding/abolishing the police, and even suggest people don’t call the police when in need.

    That, in addition to all the other ridiculousness.

  34. @August i think many of us wonder why it’s here. what’s the connection between the owner of that site/article and this one? why no discussion? it’s fine if you’re unwilling to take a personal stand but are we to assume a link to someone else’s position is your position?

  35. @Mikhail

    With barely no flights between US and China the price of fares are increasing

    If it becomes profitable for American to fly a 788 to PVG even if it’s only 2X weekly I’m sure they will want to. American changes their mind on a day to day basis.

  36. People….. please, this is supposed to be a TRAVEL blog. As I am sure you all know : 2 subjects will always get one into trouble if vocalized outside of the appropriate place. Politics & Religion. Hello!

  37. @sel, d

    >. while saying anything less than positive about a minority race is considered racist and you’ll lose your career, friends, and sometimes family.

    Making a generalization about an entire race is the literal definition of racism. Nice one bud. To your point on cancel culture though, i kind of agree.

    White fragility is kind of a click baity title but it’s a good book about how majority communities have trouble relating to struggles of minority communities due to a lack of a frame of reference.

    Nonetheless, i suggest you take a 500g dose chill pill and give feedback whoever posted the thing that offends you in the relevant place. Just use comments on articles to talk about that article. If it bothers you that much, just don’t click on it or find another place for travel news.

  38. @Colin & ChocolateFactory — Defunding police seems radical when you first hear about it, but reading up on it has been fascinating. tl;dr – a large % of what police do could be done, and better, by a well-trained social worker. Re-evaluating the role and shifting local budgets accordingly makes some sense through that lens.

  39. I don’t see what the CAAC is trying to achieve by limiting the number of flights allowed into China. If it was, as some commenters have mentioned, to limit the importation of positive Covid-19 cases, then let’s step back and realize that China is currently not allowing any foreign nationals in. Even those holding a valid visa or residence permit are having those visas/permits suspended. So basically the only passengers that can get into China now are returning Chinese nationals and a very small number of diplomats, aid workers, and scientists working on ways to contain the pandemic. Now, if the vast majority of the passengers are Chinese nationals, shouldn’t the CAAC work to facilitate their expedited return and not the opposite (which is the current situation where passengers are “forced” to pay for a $4900 one way fare from SFO to PEK in ECONOMY class due to a high demand yet a very limited supply) ? Why even try to unilaterally modify air service agreements in place to limit flights when market forces will actually do that for you automatically? Do they really think Scott Kirby or Ed Bastian will keep flying empty planes in and out of China once this temporary demand surge peter out and the travel restrictions for both China and USA are still intact? Maybe the CAAC should start reading OMAAT to get an idea. LOL.

  40. Well, even if the US comes up with an agreement, it doesn’t mean that the Chinese government will do everything in their power to quietly harass and undermine airlines arriving or departing. There are no guarantees that they airlines will be allowed passengers to board or other low level harassment and transgressions to undermine the service and quality of American airlines. Chinese business have always resorted to these type of tactics. One good example is the food industry here in China. China will continue it’s greedy manipulation of expansion and hostililty on foreign entities.

  41. Those that are struggling with the banner/link must really struggle with the argument and discussion on racism. I see nothing wrong with the article. Open your minds and think about what it says. If you feel it is too close to home, then you need to consider you are part of the problem. Become part of the solution. If it really bothers you, don’t read it in full. Nobody is forcing you.

  42. Rather disappointing to see so many pointless comments. Contact Lucky directly if you are unhappy with that link and leave the comment section to discussions that actually relate to the article.

    @Ron – The problem CAAC sees is the shortage of quarantine facilities and personnel, as all passengers coming off from an international flight to China are required to go through a 14-day quarantine in designated facilities. Apparently they believe even the short-term surge of passengers will exceed their capacity. This, of course, is very cruel to all the Chinese expats that are desperate to go home.

  43. As pointed out already, it’s mainly returning Chinese nationals (and US nationals and residents flying the other way- remember these flights do not fly 1 way empty). There are a few foreign workpass holders getting into China as well- my friend flew back there a few weeks ago.

    The demand seems to be more than 4 flights a week, as they are going out packed at $5K an economy seat. So that indicates that the CAAC might compromise on 4 flights for US carriers, 4 for Chinese carriers. But if the projections are to drop off as this is basically a one way trip, maybe they’ll settle on 2 and 2.

    Bottom line, this is another diplomatic spat that really isn’t going to effect the bottom line of any carrier involved…

  44. I can see the anger and the agony as well as the willing suspension of believing American history. Can we please for a moment look at what history tells us, and then say that Ben is wrong in what he is saying? Come on folks, let us admit the truth and not get unduly agitated. In no way what so ever can I endorse the looting and the arson. At the same time, let us not lose our focus, as the politicians would like us to do. The whole world is aghast to witness what has started it, and Ben is justified in what he is saying. Let us not take his comment out of context please.

  45. @MKLDH,

    Agree that the bottleneck is the quarantine facility on the Chinese side. But it is THEIR problem, not the DOT’s, not UA’s not DL’s. To completely block US (or any other foreign) airlines while still allowing Chinese carriers to service the same route(s) just because you have an inbound processing problem is just untenable. So in this case, the DOT is absolutely correct in stepping in to stop this commercial imbalance that runs counter to the agreed upon bilateral agreement.

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