The United States suspended 44 Chinese flights in relation to the rising COVID concerns, as China imposed similar restrictions on many American airlines in recent weeks.
China started canceling flights
China started the dispute recently when it canceled aviation by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, as their passengers were tested positive for coronavirus after landing in China.
According to the US Transportation Department’s order released on Friday, China suspending American flights is an unfair and punitive measure.
China is observing the most ambitious COVID lockdown these days and being extra cautious regarding the virus, as Beijing Olympics could be at risk otherwise.
The Chinese ban comes in accordance with the country’s policy of circuit breaker, according to which flights get suspended if five or more passengers on them are tested positive for the virus.
This way, the inflow of the pandemic, which firstly emerged in the same country, could be limited.
Biden said Fri that 44 flights from the US to China by four Chinese airlines would be suspended in response to Beijing's decision to suspend flights by some American airlines over COVID19 concerns. Flight suspension has become a political tool rather than a quarantine necessity. pic.twitter.com/WXarf9GkUT
— SourceBeijing (@SourceBeijing) January 22, 2022
However, the American Transportation Department is sensing foul play in Chinese procedures specifically practiced against the United States.
Under the original circuit breaker policy, China offers flights to either be suspended for two weeks completely or limited in passengers for four weeks.
However, the US Transportation Department claimed American airlines were not given any such choice to make, which is a violation of Chinese laws.
Not only this, but a senior official of the department wrote in the order the Chinese government has rigorous scrutiny procedures established in the United States. This clears all potential travelers to China by seeing their negative pre-departure COVID test results and verifying other related documents.
Thus, even if someone tests positive for the virus post-arrival, US airlines should not be penalized for this, as even Chinese-made, in-flight protocols are being observed in the skies.
Banning flights from America to China is NOT new
Now, the US has banned 44 flights from America to China. Included in these flights are the carriers operated by China Eastern Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Air China, and China Southern Airlines.
While most of them were supposed to fly from Los Angeles, some of them were also scheduled from New York. This is not the first time both superpowers are coming face to face in banning each other’s flights.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Chinese authorities banned American passenger flights from their countries, which prompted the Trump administration to take similar actions and retaliate.
However, that dispute was ultimately settled when both countries resumed their flight operations later on.
The Transportation Department order affecting four Chinese airlines is the latest development in a long-running dispute over COVID-19 restrictions. https://t.co/ZXw3uE1gdP
— WEEK 25 News (@25NewsWEEK) January 21, 2022
Delta Airlines and United Airlines did not respond to the New York Times’ request to comment on the matter.
However, a trade group, namely Airlines for America, supported the decision, claiming the measure by the Department of Transportation would encourage the fair treatment of American air carriers into the Chinese market.
Both the United States and China are struggling with the new wave of the coronavirus, which is impacting their domestic operations.