China set to ease airline access amid US conflict
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.”