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US, China Stand Down on Air Travel Restrictions



The United States and China reached a bit of détente in their impasse over airline travel between the two nations.

Washington and Beijing came to an agreement on Monday, allowing four weekly flights for carriers in both countries. It’s the first step to ending a standoff over when and how often airlines can fly between the two.

“As the Chinese government allows more flights by U.S. carriers, we will reciprocate,” the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

It has been a contentious back-and-forth at a time when air travel is just now beginning to show signs of life after three months of little to no demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The White House had accused the Chinese of blocking American carriers from resuming flights to China; in turn, the U.S. more heavily scrutinized Chinese airlines and threatened to ban all Chinese commercial flights.

Both Delta and United were anxious to restart their lucrative routes to China and submitted applications to resume flights to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) after having suspended flights more than two months ago due to the coronavirus.

Following China’s agreement to allow four U.S. flights total, Reuters News Service reported that Delta said it would operate two flights to Shanghai from Seattle next week and once weekly flights from Seattle and Detroit beginning in July, all via Seoul.

United said it will resume service to China later this month or early July.

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