The U.S. Department of Transportation will suspend 26 U.S.-China flights operated by Chinese airlines in response to the Chinese government requiring U.S. carriers to suspend their flights to China, the agency confirmed Friday. The reason: a dispute over antivirus controls.
The suspensions, from Sept. 5 to 28, will affect seven flights from New York and 19 flights from Los Angeles by four airlines -- Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, according to a Reuters report.
The 26 total equals the number of flights for American Airlines, Delta and United that China recently canceled as "circuit-breaker" penalties resulting from passengers testing positive for Covid-19 "up to seven days after their arrival in China," according to the DOT.
As of Aug. 7, the Civil Aviation Administration of China revised its "circuit-breaker" measures for scheduled international passenger flights "in a bid to effectively coordinate Covid-19 prevention and control."
For any airline carrying at least five passengers who test positive for Covid-19, if that number reaches 4% or more, the airline's operation on that specific route will be suspended for one operation. If the number of confirmed passengers testing positive reaches 8% or more, the airline's operation on that route shall be suspended for two operations, according to the Chinese agency.
"Since March 2020, China has unilaterally imposed frequency and capacity restrictions that are inconsistent with the terms of the U.S.-China Air Transport Agreement," the DOT said in an email. The U.S. government has "repeatedly raised its objections to the circuit-breaker policy with Chinese government officials."
The DOT also said that the rules place "undue culpability on carriers" when travelers test negative prior to boarding, then test positive for Covid-19 upon their arrival in China, according to the Reuters report.
Source: Business Travel News