May 26, 2024


eople look on as an Air China plane carrying Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport ahead of the APEC summit in November 2023.

People look on as an Air China plane carrying Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport ahead of the APEC summit in November 2023.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

As Chinese air travels continues to recover from its pandemic-era slowdowns, U.S. airlines are asking that the federal government stop letting so many of the flights into America.

Airlines for America, a trade group that counts Delta, United, American, and JetBlue among its members, is pushing back on a Department of Transportation plan to lift the weekly cap on China-to-America flights from 35 to 50.

“We are writing to urge you pause additional passenger flights between the United States and the People’s Republic of China until U.S. workers and businesses are guaranteed equality of access in the marketplace, free from the existing harmful anti-competitive policies of the Chinese government,” the group’s letter says. It was co-signed by unions representing pilots and flight attendants.

While the 50-per-week limit already went into effect on March 31, U.S. carriers don’t want the number to keep rising toward the 150-flight cap that was in place before the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation on flight schedules has been seen as a diplomatic bright spot between two countries’ with an otherwise frosty dynamic at the moment.

One complaint from Airlines for America centers on restrictions that the Chinese government put on American carriers as part of its pandemic response, which severely curtailed their operations in the country. The group wants more protections from similar actions in the future. Also at issue is Chinese planes’ use of Russian airspace, through which U.S. planes are not allowed to fly. That saves Chinese planes time and money because it means they can use shorter routes.



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