FILE PHOTO: A passenger aircraft of China Eastern Airlines takes off at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy-en-France during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France May 19, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration plans to bar Chinese passenger carriers from flying to the United States starting in mid-June as it pressures Beijing to allow U.S. air carriers to resume flights, three U.S. and airline officials briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The move, set to be announced on Wednesday, penalizes China after Beijing failed to comply with an existing agreement on flights between the world’s two largest economies. Relations between the two countries have also soured in recent months amid escalating tensions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
The restrictions are expected to take effect on June 16 but the date could be moved up by Trump, the people briefed on the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and United Airlines (UAL.O) have asked to resume flights to China this month, even as Chinese carriers have continued U.S. flights during the pandemic.
The White House and Transportation Department declined to comment on the matter. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s administration on May 22 accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government.
The administration is also cracking down on Chinese passenger airline charter flights and will warn carriers not to expect approvals. Administration officials have suggested charter flights have been used to circumvent Chinese government limits on flights.
On Jan. 31, the U.S. government barred from entry most non-U.S. citizens who had been in China within the previous 14 days due to the coronavirus crisis but did not impose any restrictions on Chinese flights. Major U.S. carriers voluntarily decided to halt all passenger flights to China in February.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham