China set to ease air­line ac­cess amid US con­flict

Orlando Sentinel - - Business - By Joe McDonald

BEI­JING — Chi­nese reg­u­la­tors said Thurs­day that more foreign air­lines will be al­lowed to fly to China as anti-coro­n­avirus con­trols ease, but it was un­clear whether the change will defuse a con­flict with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over air travel.

The an­nounce­ment came af­ter Washington said Wed­nes­day that it would bar four Chi­nese air­lines from the United States be­cause Bei­jing was fail­ing to al­low United Air­lines and Delta Air Lines to re­sume flights to China.

Air­lines that were fly­ing to China when con­trols were im­posed in March were al­lowed to keep mak­ing one flight per week. United and Delta had sus­pended their flights be­fore that and asked per­mis­sion to re­sume.

Air­lines not on the March list can make one flight per week start­ing Mon­day, the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China said on its web­site.

The an­nounce­ment ap­peared to open the door to United and Delta, but CAAC gave no in­di­ca­tion which car­ri­ers were af­fected. An em­ployee who an­swered the phone at CAAC and gave only her sur­name, Yan, said she had no de­tails.

Asked what it heard from Chi­nese reg­u­la­tors about its sta­tus, United said in a state­ment, “We look for­ward to re­sum­ing pas­sen­ger ser­vice be­tween the United States and China when the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment al­lows us to do so.”

The dis­pute adds to U.S.-Chi­nese strains over trade, tech­nol­ogy, Tai­wan, hu­man rights and the sta­tus of Hong Kong.

The Chi­nese foreign min­istry ex­pressed re­gret at the U.S. an­nounce­ment.

“Some progress has al­ready been made in the ar­range­ments. China has also an­nounced ad­just­ments of its poli­cies,” said a min­istry spokesman, Zhao Li­jian. “We hope the United States will not cre­ate ob­sta­cles for solv­ing the prob­lem.”

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