(Adds more details, no immediate comment from the carriers)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. government late on
Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible
for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four
Chinese air carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S.

The administration of President Donald Trump stopped short
of imposing restrictions on Chinese air carriers but said talks
with China had failed to produce an agreement.

The U.S. Transportation Department, which is trying to
persuade China to allow the resumption of U.S. passenger airline
service there, earlier this week briefly delayed a few Chinese
charter flights for not complying with notice requirements.

In an order posted on a U.S. government website and seen by
Reuters, the department noted Delta Air Lines and United
Airlines want to resume flights to China in June, even
as Chinese carriers have continued U.S. flights during the
COVID-19 pandemic.

The order said Air China, China Eastern Airlines
Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines
Holding Co and their subsidiaries must file
schedules and other details of flights by May 27. The department
warned it could find Chinese flights “contrary to applicable law
or adversely affect the public interest.”

United declined to comment. The other U.S. and Chinese
carriers, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) and
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests
for comment.

The department said in a statement it has “protested this
situation to the Chinese authorities, repeatedly objecting to
China’s failure to let U.S. carriers fully exercise their rights
and to the denial to U.S. carriers of their right to compete on
a fair and equal basis with Chinese carriers” and called the
situation “critical.”

On Jan. 31, the U.S. government barred from entry most
non-U.S. citizens who had been in China within the previous 14
days but did not impose any restrictions on Chinese flights.
Major U.S. carriers voluntarily decided to halt all passenger
flights to China in February.

Delta and United are flying cargo flights to China. Delta
had requested approval for a daily flight to Shanghai Pudong
airport from Detroit and Seattle, while United had asked to fly
daily to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark airport
near New York and between San Francisco and Beijing.

The number of weekly scheduled combination flights operated
between the two countries by U.S and Chinese carriers fell from
325 in January to 20, by just the four Chinese carriers, in
mid-February, before the carriers increased them to 34 in
mid-March, the U.S. order said.

The CAAC in late March said Chinese airlines could maintain
just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any given
country and that carriers could fly no more than the number of
flights they were flying on March 12, according to the U.S.

But because U.S. passenger airlines had stopped all flights
by March 12, the CAAC notice “effectively precludes U.S.
carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to China,”
the department said.

CAAC told the U.S. government during a May 14 call that
China is considering removing the March 12 schedule
pre-condition but the “restriction to once-weekly service on one
route to China would remain in place,” the order said.

Earlier on Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department added 33
Chinese companies and institutions to an economic blacklist for
alleged human rights violations and to address U.S. national
security concerns involving weapons of mass destruction and
other military activities.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Brenda
Goh, Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Tracy Rucinski in
Chicago; Editing by William Mallard)