ANKARA

US announced Wednesday that Chinese airlines will be suspended from operating passenger flights to and from the US.

The move is reportedly a tit-for-tat retaliation for China’s inaction to approve American airlines from conducting passenger service to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US Department of Transportation said Chinese authorities have “failed to permit” US air carriers to operate routes previously flown.

“The Department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both U.S. and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights,” the agency said in a statement. “In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours.”

The US claims China is violating a bilateral agreement for international travel by preventing United Airlines and Delta Air Lines from resuming trans-oceanic flights.

The airlines asked to resume service June 1. United, Delta, and American airlines suspended service to China due to the coronavirus pandemic. The US also imposed travel bans to stem the spread of the coronavirus

The restrictions will take effect June 16 but could be earlier if US President Donald Trump decides to expedite the process.

The spat between the two rival nations is the first of what may be more to come as airlines seek to resume flights but countries remain cautious about the coronavirus.

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