U.S. airlines, backed by U.S. senators, are lobbying the White House and Capitol Hill to impose restrictions on foreign carriers not sanctioned by Moscow and serving the U.S. via Russian airspace.
Banned from Russian air corridors since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, U.S. air operators are experiencing longer flight times and higher costs than their competitors on flights to and from Asia. These U.S. airlines, led by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, supported by the Airlines for America lobby, point to a competitive disadvantage, with an estimated annual lost market share of more than $2 billion.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently presented an order to the Biden administration to prohibit the overflight of Russian airspace by Chinese carriers transiting through the United States, namely Air China, China Southern Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines. The lobbyists, based on the episode of the Ryanair flight hijacked by Belarus in May 2021, plead however for a generalization of this order to all foreign airlines in order to protect American citizens.
Geopolitically, such a measure could prove explosive, exacerbating already high tensions with China. Moreover, a generalization of this measure to all foreign airlines, particularly Indian and Emirati, could have disastrous consequences for American tourism and trade, contributing to the growing polarization of the world.
Finally, at a time when the latest IPCC report warns of the inadequacy of climate policies, longer travel times would be another defeat for environmentalists.