In May 2023, the US Department of Transportation slightly increased the number of weekly flights Chinese air carriers are allowed to operate between mainland China and the United States. Rumors immediately spread that the Americans had set a condition: aircraft flying from China to the United States must avoid Russian airspace.
Unlike American competitors, Chinese airlines are not banned from flying into Russian territory, as there are no sanctions on Beijing. There have been reports in the media that some overseas carriers have complained about the obvious advantages this situation brings to the Chinese side and have lobbied for restrictions to level the playing field.
Flights that were approved before May 2023 continue to operate over Russia, while new approved flights are bypassed. Officially, the order granting China more rights to fly to the United States does not contain any conditions regarding specific routes.
In fact, a month ago, Chinese state media said that restrictions on the topic “how do we fly”? are not justified and cannot be accepted, and “the United States does not have the right to force the airlines of other countries not to take this or that route.”
According to experts, there is technically no legal way to force an airline to follow a certain route to a place appointments, but Biden administration officials remain silent on talks they have had with their Chinese counterparts to resume flights.
During the pandemic, China severely restricted flights from US carriers, leading to retaliatory restrictions.
Despite the lifting of lockdowns and quarantine, the resumption of “normal” of life, traffic now remains well below 2019 levels.