The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has rejected Chinese carriers' latest applications to increase the number of flights between the two countries, ostensibly due to a lack of reciprocity on Beijing's part, Chinese investigative journal Caixin has reported.

According to a DOT order issued on July 30, applications for new frequencies to the US filed by China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines were also rejected. The DOT also said that until further notice, all future proposed schedule filings by these airlines would also be rejected.

The DOT did not provide any explicit reasoning for the decision other than referring to the earlier order, which caps the number of aggregate weekly flights operated by Chinese airlines to the US at four.

The DOT is said to have been unwilling to permit more flights from China without an agreement with the authorities in Beijing. The US claims that China has blocked US carriers from adding more flights to the country.

Currently, the four-weekly-flight cap applies to both US and Chinese operators flying to either country.

According to the ch-aviation schedules module, the four frequencies allocated to Chinese carriers are used by Air China (Beijing Capital-Los Angeles Int'l), China Southern (Guangzhou-Los Angeles), China Eastern (Shanghai Pudong-New York JFK), and Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen-Los Angeles). Each of the carriers operates weekly. In turn, the US allocation is split between United Airlines, which operates 2x weekly between San Francisco and Shanghai (via Seoul Incheon), and Delta Air Lines which operates weekly each from Detroit Metropolitan and Seattle Tacoma Int'l to Shanghai (also via Seoul).

However, while the passenger market is severely curtailed by these restrictions, the cargo market between the US and China is booming. Chinese airlines alone have planned 120 scheduled cargo-only flights to the US in the week starting August 10.