In reaction to the Chinese government’s decision to ban some US carrier flights over COVID-19 concerns, the US government said on Friday that it would halt 44 China-bound flights from the US by four Chinese carriers.
The bans will begin on Jan. 30 with a planned Xiamen Airlines aircraft from Los Angeles to Xiamen and will last until March 29, according to the Transportation Department. Some flights will be canceled by Xiamen Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines as a result of the decision.
Since December 31, Chinese officials have grounded 20 United Airlines flights, ten American Airlines flights, and 14 Delta Air Lines flights after some passengers tested positive for COVID-19. Even as recently as Tuesday, the Transportation Department reported that the Chinese government has announced additional cancellations of US flights.
According to Liu Pengyu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, the policy for international passenger flights into China has “been applied equally to Chinese and foreign airlines in a fair, open, and transparent manner.” “We urge the US side to stop disrupting and restricting normal passenger flights” by Chinese airlines, he said, calling the US decision “very unreasonable.”
Airlines for America, a trade organization that includes the three US carriers affected by China’s measure, said it welcomed Washington’s action “to ensure fair treatment of US airlines in the Chinese market.”
According to the Transportation Department, France and Germany have taken similar moves in response to China’s COVID-19 activities. It stated that China’s suspension of the 44 flights “is detrimental to the public interest and requires proportionate remedial action.” It went on to say that China’s “unilateral actions against the named US carriers are inconsistent” with the terms of the bilateral agreement.
China has also suspended a number of Chinese airline flights to the United States after passengers tested positive. The department stated that it was willing to reconsider its move if China changed its “policies to achieve the necessary improved situation for US carriers.” If China cancels further flights, “we reserve the right to take additional action,” it said.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China has effectively closed its borders to passengers, reducing total foreign flights to 200 per week, or 2% of pre-pandemic levels. Since December, the number of US flights that have been canceled has increased as illnesses caused by the highly infectious Omicron strain of the coronavirus have reached all-time highs in the United States.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Beijing and Washington have clashed over aviation services. After Beijing imposed similar restrictions on four United Airlines flights in August, the US Transportation Department banned four flights from Chinese airlines to 40 percent passenger capacity for four weeks.
Before to the latest cancellations, three US airlines and four Chinese carriers were operating roughly 20 flights per week between the two nations, far less than the more than 100 flights per week that existed prior to the epidemic.