US scales back China airline ban to permit 2 weekly flights

The US modified a ban on Chinese commercial airlines Friday to allow two round-trip flights per week, matching the level permitted by Beijing and de-escalating somewhat a conflict between the countries.

The US Department of Transportation on Wednesday had threatened to halt all flights by Chinese carriers in retaliation for Beijing's barring of flights by leading US carriers.

But the Civil Aviation Authority of China on Thursday cleared the way for Delta Air Lines and United Airlines to operate one international route into China each week.

The DOT made clear in its order that it still objected to China's actions, noting that the CAAC would allow Chinese carriers in aggregate to operate as many as four weekly passenger flights into the US.

"As a general matter, we are troubled by China's unilateral dictation of the terms of the US-China scheduled passenger air transportation market without respect for the rights of US carriers under the Agreement," the DOT said.

The Chinese government's actions have "impaired the operating rights of US carriers," the DOT said, adding that the situation "continues to warrant the Department's action to restore a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among US and Chinese carriers."