More details about the limitations on overseas flights to Shanghai are surfacing as China strives to maintain its zero-COVID plan. From March 21 to May 1, China is diverting more than 100 aircraft away from Shanghai.
According to the China Daily, Xu Qing, deputy director of China's Civil Aviation Administration, remarked on March 15, "To ease Shanghai's epidemic control pressure, 106 international flights, carried out by five domestic airlines, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines will be redirected to land at 12 other Chinese cities."
According to Reuters, China Eastern Airlines (CEA) has applied to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for permission to relocate flights from New York to Shanghai to China's Fuzhou Changle International Airport (FOC) from March 31 to April 30.
Shanghai is 380 miles (600 kilometres) away from Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province. FOC is a hub for Xiamen Airlines, with frequent 90-minute flights to Shanghai's Hongqiao airport, and handling over 12 million passengers in 2019.
China Eastern, Air China, Juneyao Air, Shanghai Airlines, and Spring Airlines would reroute twenty-two routes to twelve other locations, including the provincial capitals Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Fuzhou.
While China Eastern's proposal only nominates routes from New York to Shanghai for transfer, it's possible that more will follow, including routes from Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
While the switch to FOC may be inconvenient for the next six weeks or so, it's worth remembering that just 630,000 US nationals travelled to Asia in 2020, according to the US Department of Commerce.