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As of Jan. 19 and for at least two weeks, all flights from the United States to China have been canceled or are subject to suspension due to Chinese aviation regulations, according to CNN Business research on government announcements and published flight schedules. On Friday, only two flights still seemed eligible for this period, one of them with United airlines (UAL).

The Beijing Winter Games open on February 4, and participants mostly take special flights reserved for people with OIympics credentials under a strict bubble that authorities are putting in place around the ‘event.

Since June, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has applied a so-called “circuit breaker” rule to international flights. This rule means that a flight is automatically suspended for two weeks if five or more passengers test positive upon landing in China. If 10 or more passengers test positive, the suspension period increases.

China has defended its “circuit breaker” regulations as “an important step in reducing the risk of the epidemic spreading across borders.”

“The measures, which are open and fair, also apply to Chinese and foreign airlines,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in August. “For airlines that do not meet the conditions to trip the circuit breaker, China has never applied relevant measures against them.”

From Dec. 24 to Jan. 12, more than a third of the 9,356 international flights scheduled to depart from China – already a fraction of pre-pandemic levels – were canceled, according to data from Umetrip, an app developed by China’s state-owned aircraft industry. IT provider TravelSky.

During this period, a growing number of passengers on flights from the United States – operated by American and Chinese carriers – have tested positive upon arrival in China, sparking a wave of cancellations just before the Olympics. and the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China.

Three American carriers – United (UAL), Delta (DAL) and American Airlines (AAL) – operates 10 flights per week to Shanghai, China’s largest city, where a steady rise in Covid cases among international arrivals has seen local officials come under increasing pressure to strengthen containment measures. The city on Thursday recorded five new locally transmitted cases, all linked to a recent resident of the United States.

“US airlines are concerned about the implications of a disruption and continue to assess the impact on their operations,” Airlines for America, a Washington-based trade group that represents major US carriers, said Thursday in a statement. . “We are in communication with the US and Chinese governments to identify a way forward that minimizes the impact on travelers.”

CNN Business has sought comment from the US Department of Transportation, which has the power to suspend the eight weekly US flights operated by four Chinese airlines.

China largely closed its borders in March 2020 and continued to stick to its strict zero-Covid policy. Flights to and from China, the world’s second largest air travel market after the United States, have been drastically curtailed, even as international travel has started to rebound in other parts of the globe.
Last month, a Delta flight from Seattle to Shanghai was turned around due to a change in cleaning procedures at the Chinese airport that “dramatically extended the time on the ground and is not viable on the plane. operational, “according to the airline. Chinese authorities have challenged the account, urging the carrier to “protect the legitimate rights of customers.”


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