The US Department of Transportation announced that 44 Chinese airlines’ flights to China will be stopped, after China’s suspension of scores of comparable flights by US carriers.
The impacted Chinese carriers include Xiamen Airlines, Air China, China Southern, as well as China Eastern flights to China.
The USA Strikes Back
The move is the US president’s retaliation for China’s recent ban of 44 US carriers’ aircraft to China under the guise of COVID-19 epidemic prevention.
Eight customers on Delta Airlines’ Detroit to Shanghai aircraft, DL283, came back positive for COVID on Jan. 12. Then, the Air Transport Administration of China (CAAC) filed another circuit protection order suspending two Delta Airlines flights to Shanghai from Feb. 7.
In contrast, China has postponed six American Airlines Dallas-Shanghai flights, six United Airlines San Francisco-Shanghai flights, and all Delta Airlines Shanghai-bound airfares scheduled for the end of January and early February.
In 2020, the government announced its first aircraft circuit breaker measures to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic. The measures provide if five to nine travelers test positive for COVID-19 after landing in China, their aircraft route will be banned for two weeks.
If more than ten travelers test positive, the flight route would be stopped for four weeks, as per CAAC.
US and China spar over air services
— WION (@WIONews) January 22, 2022
China has already stopped 70 flights between China and America since the beginning of the year, citing the circuit breaker measure and increasing the confrontation between the two nations over air travel.
Following the suspension of further U.S. flights by China earlier this month, Chinese people living abroad wrote on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that “getting back to China now seems mission impossible.”
“Flights are being canceled at an increasing rate. I haven’t been back to my hometown in two years.”
Beijing’s flight cancellations, according to the US Department of Transportation, are “adverse to the interest of the public and demand commensurate remedial action.”
Furthermore, Beijing’s “executive actions against the designated US carriers are incompatible” with a new treaty between the US and China, according to the announcement.
Biden Wishes to De-escalate
At the very same time, the Biden government stated a de-escalation road has been left open. The Transit Agency also noted if China modifies its “policy to bring about the requisite improved environment for U.S. carriers,” it will reconsider its move.
The US, on the other hand, warned if China bans any more US planes, “we retain the right to take extra measures.”
The United States is blocking some flights by Chinese airlines in retaliation for China canceling more than a dozen flights there by American carriers. https://t.co/L5fQ6h9pZ1
— ABC News (@ABC) January 22, 2022
China and the United States have clashed multiple times over aviation services since the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Prior to the next round of canceled flights, three US carriers and four Chinese carriers operated roughly 20 weekly flights between both the two nations, far less than the over 100 weekly flights that existed prior to the pandemic.
According to Reuters, the number of foreign flights to China is currently about 200 per week, which is only 2% of the pre-epidemic rate.
It has caused hardship for a huge number of Chinese residents living abroad who want to come back home, and it’s had a significant impact on China’s economic activity.