US allows limited flights by Chinese airlines

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration said on Friday it will let Chinese airlines operate a limited number of flights to the United States (US), backing down from a threat to ban the flights.

The decision came one day after China appeared to open the door to US carriers United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resuming one flight per week each into the country.

The Transportation Department said it will let Chinese passenger airlines fly a combined total of two round-trip flights per week between the US and China, which it said would equal the number of flights that China’s aviation authority will allow for US carriers. Delta praised the US government for trying to “ensure fairness and access to China”. United said it was reviewing the matter.

Neither said whether the latest development in the dispute between the two countries would affect their plans. Both had hoped to offer more flights.

The Transportation Department said it might further ease restrictions if China does the same. Officials are concerned, however, about conditions China is imposing that could affect whether US airlines resume their flights. Those requirements include taking temperatures of all passengers in mid-flight and suspending an airline’s future flights if five or more passengers test positive for the coronavirus after arriving in China.

This file photo shows a Delta Air Lines jet and a United Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport. PHOTO: AP