The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has lifted a two year old requirement for Hong Kong-based airlines to file their US schedules at least 30 days in advance. The DOT imposed the requirement in March 2021 in response to draconian quarantine rules in Hong Kong which were adversely impacting US-based airlines flying there.

The DOT requirement, which flagged Cathay Pacific, HK Express, and Hong Kong Airlines, in reality only affected Cathay Pacific as it was the only Hong Kong-based carrier to fly to the US. The rule forced the airline to disclose current US-bound passenger, combi, and all-cargo services at least 30 days out. The advance notice would give the DOT time to review the flights to ensure that they did not breach the air services agreements or or otherwise adversely impact the public interest. Before that, Cathay Pacific was not required to seek specific approval for their US flight schedules.

"We took that action in response to the actions of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China to deny the fair and equal opportunity of US carriers to exercise the operating rights provided for in the agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Hong Kong concerning air services," read the February 22 order lifting the rule.

Last week's order, signed by Annie Petsonk, assistant secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at the DOT, says it is no longer in the public interest to enforce the advance filing rule. The statement says that the DOT has continued to monitor the situation and that the agency is now satisfied the restrictions in Hong Kong have eased to an extent that "entry limitations to Hong Kong are no longer being applied in a discriminatory manner. As a result, equal market access once again exists."