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“US Airlines Urge Biden Administration to Refrain from Approving Extra Flights to China”

Major U.S. airlines, alongside key union representatives, are urging the Biden administration to halt the approval of any further flights connecting the United States and China. They cite what they perceive as “anti-competitive” practices imposed by China on U.S. carriers as grounds for their appeal.

Highlighting concerns over China’s closure of its market to U.S. carriers during the pandemic’s onset and ongoing regulations impacting American airline operations and crews, the coalition asserts the necessity for U.S. government intervention to safeguard domestic aviation interests and travelers alike. This sentiment was articulated in a formal letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Signatories to the letter include the CEO of Airlines for America, a leading trade group, as well as the presidents of influential pilot associations such as the Air Line Pilots Association and the Allied Pilots Association, representing crew members at American Airlines, along with the Association of Flight Attendants.

Despite the gradual increase in flights between China and the U.S., the volume remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels. Nonetheless, the Biden administration recently raised the permitted number of round trips for Chinese airlines from 35 to 50 per week, effective March 31, following assurances from China’s aviation authority to seek a reciprocal increase in U.S. carrier flights.

U.S. airlines contend that Chinese carriers enjoy an unfair advantage by utilizing shorter routes through Russian airspace—a privilege denied to U.S. carriers since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine over two years ago. Moreover, they allege that Chinese airlines benefit from preferential treatment by the Chinese government due to their state-owned status.

The coalition underscores in their letter the critical importance of equitable access to China’s aviation market. Without such access, they warn, American carriers risk losing market share to Chinese competitors.

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