WASHINGTON: In reaction to the Chinese government’s decision to ban some US carrier flights over COVID-19 concerns, the US government said on Friday (Jan 21) that it would suspend 44 China-bound flights from the US by four Chinese carriers.
According to the Transportation Department, the suspensions will begin on January 30 with Xiamen Airlines’ scheduled Los Angeles-to-Xiamen route and will last until March 29.
Some Xiamen, Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines flights would be canceled as a result of the decision.
After several passengers tested positive for COVID-19, Chinese authorities have stopped 20 United Airlines, 10 American Airlines, and 14 Delta Air Lines flights since December 31. The Transportation Department stated on Tuesday that the Chinese government had announced fresh flight cancellations in the United States.
The policy for international passenger flights entering China has “been implemented equally to Chinese and foreign airlines in a fair, open, and transparent manner,” according to Liu Pengyu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
“We ask the US side to avoid interrupting and restricting legitimate passenger flights” by Chinese airlines, he said, calling the US decision “extremely unfair.”
Airlines for America, a trade group that represents the three US airlines affected by China’s move, as well as others, said it backed Washington’s actions “to assure the equitable treatment of US airlines in the Chinese market.”
France and Germany, according to the Transportation Department, have taken similar moves in response to China’s COVID-19 actions.
It stated that China’s cancellation of 44 flights is “injurious to the public interest” and requires “proportionate remedial measures.” China’s “unilateral actions against the specified US carriers are incongruous” with a bilateral agreement, according to the report.
China has also grounded a number of Chinese carriers’ flights to the United States after passengers tested positive.
The government stated that it was willing to reconsider its decision if China changed its mind “measures to improve the situation for US airlines, which is urgently needed. ” “We have the right to take more action” if China cancels more flights, it said.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China has effectively closed its borders to foreign travelers, reducing total international flights to just 200 per week, or 2% of pre-pandemic levels.
Since December, the number of US flights that have been canceled has increased dramatically, as infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron strain of the coronavirus have reached new highs in the United States.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Beijing and Washington have fought over air services. After Beijing applied similar restrictions on four United Airlines flights, the US Transportation Department prohibited four Chinese carriers’ flights to 40% passenger capacity for four weeks in August.
Before to the recent cancellations, three US airlines and four Chinese airlines were operating approximately 20 flights per week between the two nations, far less than the more than 100 flights per week that existed prior to the pandemic.