US cancels 44 flights operated by Chinese airlines in retaliation for China’s suspension of services by US airlines

topline

The US Department of Transportation is suspending 44 flights from the United States to China by four Chinese airlines, it said Friday, in retaliation for Beijing canceling the same number of flights on US carriers citing precautions against Covid-19.

Key facts

The suspended flights are scheduled from Jan. 30 to March 29 on Xiamen, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, the DOT said.

The ministry said it is “fully prepared” to reverse its decision if China improves its treatment of US carriers, or takes additional measures if Beijing suspends more flights.

In the first few weeks of January, Beijing canceled 44 American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines flights scheduled from January to March after travelers from US airlines tested positive for Covid-19 after entering the country.

Surprising fact

China has cut international flights to just 2% of the volume it had before the pandemic, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Tangent

China has put in place a strict zero-covid policy ahead of the Winter Olympics, and airlines are subject to sanctions if travelers test positive for the virus.

key background

If five to nine passengers on a single flight test positive for coronavirus on arrival in China, Chinese aviation authorities will force airlines to choose one of two restrictions: suspend the flight for two weeks or limit passenger capacity on the flight to 40% for four weeks. Washington and Beijing have argued over flight cancellations since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, China blocked Delta and United flights, prompting the Trump administration to threaten to suspend services by Chinese airlines, leading to China’s entry and permitting the two US airlines to resume operations. In August 2021, the DOT imposed a 40% cap on passenger capacity on four Chinese airlines’ flights for four weeks after Beijing imposed the same restrictions on four United flights.

Read further

Biden government suspends 44 US flights from Chinese airlines (Reuters)

US airlines blame China for some flight cancellations as restrictions tighten ahead of the Olympics (USA today)

Excluding Chinese airlines would have had little effect on traffic between the US and China (Forbes)

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