U.S. Suspends 44 Flights to China Operated by Chinese Airlines

Date: Monday, January 24, 2022
Source: The Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration Friday suspended dozens of flights operated by Chinese airlines, in response to similar measures taken by China’s aviation authorities in recent weeks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Friday it would suspend 44 flights from the U.S. to China operated by four Chinese carriers. It followed after the Civil Aviation Administration of China in recent weeks canceled a number of flights from the U.S. and other countries, citing Covid-19 containment rules.

Under China’s previously announced rules, airlines whose flights arrive with more than five Covid-19 positive patients will have that route suspended for two weeks; 10 or more cases, four weeks.

The flight suspensions announced in recent weeks forced airlines around the world to cancel flights from the U.S. to China, including several by American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., and United Airlines Holdings Inc. Chinese carriers have also had flights affected by the rules.

The U.S. government has repeatedly raised objections over China’s so-called circuit-breaker measure and believes it is inconsistent with an agreement that governs air travel between the two countries, the DOT wrote in its order.

China’s rules can penalize airlines if their passengers test positive for Covid-19 up to seven days after arrival, something the DOT said is “wholly outside of the carriers’ control.”

“We find that CAAC’s recent actions impairing the operations of Delta, American, and United as described above are adverse to the public interest and warrant proportionate remedial action by the Department,” the DOT wrote.

The department said it would revisit its action if China’s authorities adjusted their policy, but would take additional action if the situation worsens.

Liu Pengyu, a representative for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said China’s policy has helped effectively block the spread of virus across borders.

“The policy has been applied equally to Chinese and foreign airlines in a fair, open, and transparent way,” he said. “It is very unreasonable for the U.S. to suspend Chinese airlines’ flights on this ground. We urge the U.S. side to stop disrupting and restricting the normal passenger flights operated by Chinese airlines.”

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