June 3 (UPI) -- The Trump administration said Wednesday it will ban Chinese airlines from operating any commercial flights in the United States unless Beijing loosens restrictions placed on U.S. carriers.
The Department of Transportation issued an order suspending scheduled passenger operations of all Chinese carriers to and from the United States effective June 16, unless invoked sooner by President Donald Trump.
DOT officials said the decision was made in light of "the failure of [China] to permit U.S. carriers to exercise the full extent of their bilateral right to conduct scheduled passenger air services to and from China."
The suspension directly affects the operations of the four Chinese carriers currently operating in the United States -- Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.
U.S. officials said Beijing is violating an international travel agreement between the two countries by preventing United Airlines and Delta Air Lines from resuming service to China as originally scheduled on Monday
Service was cut in March during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Chinese government's failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement," the DOT said, adding that it was "fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order" should Beijing allow U.S. airlines to resume their former schedules in China.
The disagreement was the latest indication of tensions between the United States and China, which some economists have cited as the most significant threat to an economic recovery from the pandemic.