The Trump administration on Friday night accused China of blocking U.S. airlines’ flights to the country as tension rise between the nation.
The Department of Transportation said China has made it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume passenger service there and has demanded Chinese authorities file flight schedules for four of its air carriers still flying to America.
The department posted an order on a government website stating that Delta Air Lines and United Airlines hope to resume flights to China in June; meanwhile Chinese carriers continue flying to and from the U.S. throughout the crisis.
The flight flap is playing out as China Friday urged the U.S. to keep a landmark trade deal President Trump signed in January on track, and fears of a renewed trade war caused jitters on Wall Street.
The DOT issued a statement Friday condemning “China’s failure to let U.S. carriers fully exercise their rights and to the denial to U.S. carriers of their right to compete on a fair and equal basis with Chinese carriers” and called the situation “critical.”
Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines Holding Co and their subsidiaries must file schedules and other flight details by May 27, or else their flights could be viewed “contrary to applicable law or adversely affect the public interest,” the DOT said in its order.
The coronavirus has led to a steep drop-off in flights between China and the US, from 325 weekly flights in January to just 34 by mid-March — all by the Chinese carriers.
The Trump administration on Jan. 31 barred from entry most non-U.S. citizens who had been in China within the previous 14 days — but did not place restrictions on Chinese flights.
The major U.S. carriers decided on their own to halt all passenger flights to China in February.
Now, Delta had requested approval for daily flights to Shanghai Pudong airport out of Detroit and Seattle.
United meanwhile is looking to fly daily to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark airports and to Beijing from San Fransisco, as well, according to the US DOT.
Delta and United did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier on Friday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China for its proposed power grab in Hong Kong, with the mainland Communist Party seeking to establish its own intelligence bases in the city.
The bases are part of China’s national security legislation for Hong Kong presented to the National People’s Congress in Beijing, which includes several restrictive measures widely viewed as a move to squash Hong Kong’s calls for greater autonomy.
Pompeo called the legislation a “death knell” for Hong Kong’s freedoms.