The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) will allow all foreign airlines to resume their flights next week. 

By Cailey Rizzo
June 03, 2020
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China Eastern Airlines Boeing 777-300 commercial aircraft as seen on final approach landing at New York JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A few hours after the Trump administration announced that Chinese airlines were blocked flying into or out of American airspace, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) eased on its rulings that triggered the dispute.  

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) ordered the retaliatory measures after U.S. airlines — among other foreign airlines — were effectively blocked from resuming service to China. 

“We will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” the DOT said in a statement that announced the order that was slated to go into effect on June 16. Affected airlines included Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines, among others. 

Chinese aviation regulators had initially ruled that foreign airlines would only be allowed to operate one flight per week, based on how many flights to China they had been operating in early March. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the three American airlines that fly to China — Delta, United, and American — had completely stopped service, so they were blocked from resuming service. 

By Thursday morning, the CAAC changed its policies to allow all foreign airlines to resume their flights next week, even if they had stopped service in March. The new regulations permit foreign carriers to operate one flight per week to China. If they complete three weeks of service with no passenger testing for coronavirus, they will be permitted to operate two flights per week. But a route could be suspended for up to a week if more than five passengers test positive for COVID-19.  

“We look forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China when the regulatory environment allows us to do so,” a United Airlines spokesperson told The Associated Press in response to the news. 

The order ended by announcing that should the CAAC adjust its policies, the U.S. DOT would reconsider or revoke the action. The DOT has not yet responded to the update from China. 

Before the DOT ruling, United and Delta had been petitioning to resume flights to China in June. 

Chinese carriers are operating no more than one weekly scheduled flight to the U.S., but have chartered a significant number of flights, most often to fly Chinese students home.