Revision of Scheduled Passenger Operations of 7 Chinese Airlines 2020 by Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation of the United States has revised scheduled passenger service of seven airlines — to have been effective as of Tuesday, June 16, 2020 — which are based in the People’s Republic of China because the government of China failed to permit commercial air carriers which are based in the United States from exercising the full extent of their bilateral right to conduct scheduled passenger air services to and from the country…

Revision of Scheduled Passenger Operations of 7 Chinese Airlines 2020 by Department of Transportation

China flag

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…but because the Civil Aviation Authority of China revised its Notice on Further Reducing International Passenger Flights during the Epidemic Prevention and Control Period, the Department of Transportation revised its notification and order disapproving schedules.

“On June 4, 2020, CAAC revised its March 26th Notice”, according to this official document released yesterday, Friday, June 5, 2020 from the Department of Transportation of the United States. “The revisions would enable U.S. carriers to provide one weekly passenger flight each, starting June 8, 2020. The revisions to the Notice also include ‘incentive measures’ that would allow a carrier to increase or, alternatively, require it to decrease weekly frequencies based on criteria relating to the health status of China-arriving passengers on its flights. In addition, carriers seeking to serve a particular Chinese port of entry must secure permission from provincial authorities, in addition to the standard approval from CAAC.”

This does not mean that the Department of Transportation has reversed its course or rescinded its stance against altogether — rather, the agreement to which the Department of Transportation refers is the Civil Air Transport Agreement of Wednesday, September 17, 1980 between the United States and China; and despite the restrictions having been modified recently by the Civil Aviation Authority of China, they are still viewed as inconsistent with that agreement:

We find that the CAAC’s revised Notice continues to preclude U.S. carriers from fully exercising their rights under the Agreement. Moreover, it continues to impede the ability of U.S. carriers to “achieve equality of opportunity,” considering that the CAAC will permit Chinese carriers, in the aggregate, to operate as many as four weekly passenger flights to the United States. As a general matter, we are troubled by China’s continued unilateral dictation of the terms of the U.S.-China scheduled passenger air transportation market without respect for the rights of U.S. carriers under the Agreement.

Therefore, based on the facts before us, we continue to find that the Government of China has, over the objections of the U.S. Government, impaired the operating rights of U.S. carriers and denied U.S. air carriers the fair and equal opportunity to exercise their operating rights under the Agreement, and thus has acted contrary to the Government of China’s obligations under Annex I, Section I; Annex V; and Article 12(2) of the Agreement.

We find that these circumstances continue to warrant the Department’s action to restore a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers in the scheduled passenger service marketplace.

We therefore conclude that the public interest now requires the modification, effective immediately, of Order 2020-6- 1 to permit the Chinese carriers currently providing scheduled passenger air services between the United States and China, in accordance with the schedules that were filed pursuant to Order 2020-5- 4, to operate, in the aggregate, a total of two weeklyround-trip scheduled passenger flights to and from the United States. CAAC may communicate to the Department by letter which carrier(s) it selects to operate each or both of these two services. This selection may be modified with 30 days’ written notice to the Department in advance of the proposed operations.

The Civil Aviation Authority of China initially required on Thursday, March 26, 2020 that all carriers use their international passenger flight schedules from Thursday, March 12, 2020 “as a maximum limit of the capacity, in terms of frequency of passenger service, that they may maintain in any given international market until further notice” — meaning that airlines which are based in China could maintain just one weekly scheduled passenger flight on one route to any given country; and that foreign airlines could maintain just one weekly scheduled passenger flight on one route to China…

…but because airlines which are based in the United States had already completely ceased flying passenger service to and from China; while carriers based in China generally maintained a degree of passenger service during that time frame — meaning that instead of airlines which are based in the United States being permitted to maintain just one weekly scheduled passenger flight on one route to China, they were effectively precluded from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to and from China and therefore could not operate any flights at all between the two countries; but carriers which are based in China were allowed to continue to operate passenger service to and from the United States.

Negotiations between the United States and China during the month of May of 2020 to correct the imbalance were unsuccessful, which led to the equalization of passenger service between the United States and China to become effective as of Tuesday, June 16, 2020, when neither country can operate flights between the two countries. This lead to the initial notification and order disapproving schedules by the Department of Transportation to suspend scheduled passenger service of seven airlines which are based in the People’s Republic of China effective as of Tuesday, June 16, 2020, which then apparently led to the aforementioned revision from the Civil Aviation Authority of China.

China Eastern Airlines

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The scheduled passenger flight services of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines between the United States and China were substantially reduced in late January of 2020 due to decreasing demand as a result of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

“In early January 2020, among U.S. and Chinese carriers, there were approximately 325 weekly scheduled combination flights operated between the two countries. By mid-February, only 20 weekly scheduled combination flights by four Chinese carriers remained in the market In mid-March, Chinese carriers increased service levels to 34 weekly flights.”

The seven airlines which would have no longer been permitted to operate scheduled passenger flights between the United States and China include:

  • Air China Limited — doing business as Air China
  • Beijing Capital Airlines Co., Limited
  • China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited
  • China Southern Airlines Company Limited
  • Hainan Airlines Holding Co. Limited
  • Sichuan Airlines Co., Limited
  • Xiamen Airlines

Summary

China Eastern Airlines Shanghai to New York

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

With tensions already strained between the two countries and having been exacerbated further by the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, the United States — which has been on the losing end of trade imbalance with China for years — should not experience a similar yet blatantly unfair imbalance pertaining to who can operate scheduled passenger flights between the two countries.

The United States effectively had no other choice but to retaliate against the artificially competitive imbalance allegedly created by China to its advantage — and fortunately, China chose in this case not to further escalate those strained tensions between the two countries.

Scheduled passenger flights will hopefully resume between the two countries as soon as possible and as mutually fairly as possible.

All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Revision of Scheduled Passenger Operations of 7 Chinese Airlines 2020 by Department of Transportation”

  1. Tim says:

    I enjoy your blog Brian, but sometimes your titles get so wordy and confusing. How about “DOT revises the schedules of 7 Chinese airlines”?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for the suggestion, Tim.

      Perhaps I am oversensitive about several factors: search engine optimization, ability to easily search for this article in the future, not repeating a headline from another article, and cataloguing being four examples of those factors…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BoardingArea