While China is struggling to maintain its zero-COVID strategy, more details are emerging about the restrictions on international flights to Shanghai. Like Simple Flying reported on March 15thChina will divert more than 100 flights away from Shanghai from March 21 to May 1.
According to China DailyOn March 15, Xu Qing, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said:
“To ease Shanghai’s epidemic control pressure, 106 international flights operated by five domestic airlines, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines, will be diverted to land in 12 other Chinese cities.”
New York to Fuzhou, not Shanghai.
On Wednesday Reuters reported it China Eastern Airlines (CEA) has sought approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to relocate New York to Shanghai flights to China’s Fuzhou Changle International Airport (FOC) from March 31 to April 30.
Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province, is 380 miles (600 kilometers) away Shanghai. FOC handled about 12 million passengers in 2019 and is a hub for Xiamen Airlineswith frequent 90-minute flights to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport.
Twenty-two routes operated by China Eastern, Air China, Juneyao Air, Shanghai Airlines and Spring Airlines will be diverted to land in twelve alternative cities, including the provincial capitals of Chengdu, Hangzhou and Fuzhou.
While the application filed by China Eastern only nominates routes from New York to Shanghai for transfer, it is likely more will follow, potentially on routes from Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
While the change to the FOC may be a hassle for the next six weeks or so, it is worth remembering that, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, only 630,000 U.S. citizens traveled to Asia in 2020.
Power outages cause chaos for airline planners.
Although China’s COVID cases are low by most countries’ standards, its pursuit of a zero-infection policy with international flight plans is ruining. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) uses a system of interrupters that suspend international routes if five or more passengers encounter COVID upon arrival.
In January, this policy fueled a quarrel between China and the United States en China required US carriers to cancel 44 flights to China, followed by a US DOT directive to Chinese carriers to cancel 44 flights to the United States.
Air China will move aircraft from Shanghai to alternative airports in China to help combat a COVID increase. Photo: Airbus
Since March 8, CAAC has issued announcements about circuit breakers covering 16 routes to various ports in China from Pakistan, Singapore, Poland, Malaysia, South Korea and Bangladesh, operated by a mix of Chinese and overseas airlines.
Currently, the U.S. State Department advises U.S. travelers to ‘reconsider travel’ to China due to the ‘arbitrary enforcement of local laws and COVID-19 restrictions’, including a 14-day quarantine on arrival.
There has been an increase in COVID cases, the worst since China’s first outbreak in Wuhan, with new cases over 1,000 in five days in March. In its March 16 report, China’s National Health Commission reported 122,456 confirmed cases, though China does not consider asymptomatic cases as “confirmed cases.”
With switch-off instructions, zero-COVID approach and travel warnings, both tourist and business trips from the US to China is on life support, which leads some to suggest that this discussion is about who is allowed to fly empty planes from where.
The global airline recovery is stalling due to China’s closed door policy, and this power outage approach is only adding more uncertainty, something travelers are quickly learning to shy away from.
Lufthansa operates its first Airbus A321 converted cargo aircraft
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