Airlines ask Biden not to approve more flights between the US and China

The number of flights between China and the US has been rising

Via AP news wire
Friday 12 April 2024 08:03 BST
Air China planes sit on the tarmac at Beijing Airport in Beijing, China on Aug. 20, 2009
Air China planes sit on the tarmac at Beijing Airport in Beijing, China on Aug. 20, 2009 (AP2009)

Airlines and some of their unions are asking the Biden administration to stop approving any more flights between the United States and China because of what they call “anti-competitive” policies that China imposes on US carriers.

The airlines and unions said on Thursday that China closed its market to US carriers at the outbreak of the pandemic and imposed rules that still affect American operations and airline crews.

“These actions demonstrated the clear need for the US government to establish a policy that protects US aviation workers, industry and air travelers,” they said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The letter was signed by the CEO of the Airlines for America trade group and the presidents of the Air Line Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents crews at American Airlines, and the Association of Flight Attendants.

The number of flights between China and the US has been rising, although it remains far below pre-pandemic levels. The Biden administration increased the number of round trips that Chinese airlines can make from 35 to 50 per week, starting March 31, after China's aviation authority promised to seek an increase in flights by US carriers.

The US airlines said Chinese airlines get an advantage by flying shorter routes through Russian airspace, which has been off-limits to US carriers since Russia invaded Ukraine more than two years ago. They said Chinese airlines also get “certain protections” from China's government because they are state-owned.

The US industry groups said in their letter that without equal access to China's aviation market, American carriers will lose flights to Chinese airlines.

Airlines China Flights
Airlines China Flights (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Earlier this week Treasury Secretary said the Biden administration will push China to change an industrial policy that poses a threat to US jobs. Janet Yellen said on Monday after wrapping up four days of talks with Chinese officials.

She also said in Beijing they had “difficult conversations” about national security, including American concerns that Chinese companies are supporting Russia in its war in Ukraine.

But the focus of her trip was industrial policy, and what the US and Europe describe as manufacturing overcapacity in China. Wealthy nations fear a wave of low-priced Chinese exports that will overwhelm factories at home. Yellen cited the manufacturing of electric vehicles and their batteries as well as solar energy equipment — sectors that the U.S. administration is trying to promote domestically — as areas where Chinese government subsidies have driven rapid expansion of production.

“China is now simply too large for the rest of the world to absorb this enormous capacity. Actions taken by the PRC today can shift world prices,” she said, using the acronym for China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China. “And when the global market is flooded by artificially cheap Chinese products, the viability of American and other foreign firms is put into question.”

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