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China bans US flights ahead of Beijing Olympics, Lunar New Year

China bans US flights ahead of Beijing Olympics, Lunar New Year

Just weeks away from the opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have ordered Chinese aviation authorities to cancel more near future flights from the US, citing the country’s COVID-19 containment policy. Flights from other countries, including France, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, will also be banned in the coming weeks.

Under Chinese regulators’ so-called “circuit breaker” rules (effective from June 2021), commercial airline routes are suspended for at least two weeks whenever a flight lands in China with more than five passengers who are COVID-positive and suspended for four weeks when 10 or more people test positive after arrival.

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Due to the increased transferability and shorter incubation time, Omicron variant has sparked a spate of flight cancellations that rather uncomfortably coincide with both the start of the Winter Olympics on February 4 in Beijing and the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 1 this year and is China’s most important holiday.

Between December 24 and January 12, China’s circuit breaker regulations resulted in the cancellation of more than a third of 9,356 international flights scheduled to take passengers to The Middle Kingdom.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) Friday released a list of new banned flights, including routes operated by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, en route from Dallas and Detroit to Shanghai, respectively. Dozens of other flights scheduled to fly from the US to China on board both Chinese and US carriers have also been suspended since early 2022 The Wall Street Journal.

Research conducted by CNN Business in official announcements and published flight schedules indicated that there will be virtually no commercial flights from the US to China for at least two weeks from January 19. At the time of publication, the outlet said, “only two flights appeared to be eligible to operate for that period, one of them with United Airlines.”

With Omicron spreading like wildfire around the world, the Chinese government is sticking to its zero-COVID policy – ​​which is a CNN The report recently put it, “relies on a script of mass testing, extended quarantines and rapid lockdowns to stamp out any resurgence of the virus.” Though his unwavering stance is increasingly problematic for the Chinese people and the economy, and frustrating for US officials.

“China’s actions are in violation of its obligations under the US-China air transport agreement,” a spokesman for the US Department of Transportation said earlier this week. “We are in discussions with the PRC about this and we reserve the right to take regulatory action where necessary.”

Hong-Kong, a major gateway to the mainland, also banned flights from the US and multiple other countries for two weeks from January 7 after a community cluster of Omicron infections emerged from foreign crew members, ending a months-long track record of zero COVID-19 cases. .