Over the next few months, Washington will suspend more than three dozen flights by Chinese carriers. According to the US Transportation Department, it would suspend 44 China-bound flights operated by Chinese airlines from the United States between January and March 2022.
The order will affect airlines such as Air China, Xiamen Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. The decision is the latest escalation of a feud between the US and China over China’s travel restrictions.
In recent weeks, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has cancelled many China-bound flights from the United States. Under the so-called ‘circuit-breaker’ rule, a flight is automatically suspended for two weeks if five or more passengers test positive upon landing in China. If ten or more passengers test positive, the suspension period increases. China calls this an essential step in regulating the cross-border spread of the epidemic. Beijing is trying hard to control the risk of outbreaks ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
However, the rule apparently made flying from the US to China hard.
China calls the US decision an act of rudeness
The US Department of Transportation calls China's travel restrictions unfair as it puts undue culpability on airlines. The passenger could be negative before boarding the flight and can test positive within seven days after they arrive, which is beyond the control of airlines. According to the US, the policy is penalizing airlines for a passenger testing positive for COVID-19. The rule severely impacted many US airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.
In response to US Transportation Department’s decision to cancel 44 China-bound flights, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the decision ‘an act of rudeness and irresponsibility.’ According to China, the country applies the same rule for all airlines worldwide, including Chinese airlines. China follows a strict zero-Covid policy since its borders are closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
The participants of Winter Olympics 2022, commencing on February 4, will have to take special flights restricted to people with Olympics credentials. The authorities follow a strict bubble for the event with hundreds of restrictions in place.