The United States could lose all flights to China ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics – Community News
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The United States could lose all flights to China ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics

According to CNN Business investigation of government announcements and published flight schedules, as of Jan. 19 and for at least two weeks, all flights from the United States to China have been canceled or likely to be suspended. Only two more from Friday United Airlines (UAL) flights are still eligible to fly for that period.

The Beijing Winter Games open on February 4, and participants usually take special flights limited to those with OIympics credentials as part of a strict bubble that authorities are implementing around the event.

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

From December 24 to January 12, according to data from Umetrip, an app developed by China’s state aviation industry, more than a third of 9,356 international flights scheduled to depart for China were cancelled. IT provider TravelSky.

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During this period, a growing number of passengers on flights from the United States — operated by both American and Chinese airlines — tested positive upon arrival in China, triggering a spate of cancellations just before the Olympics and the Lunar New Year, China’s most important holiday. .

Three US Airlines — United (UAL), Delta (VALLEY) and US Airlines (AAL) – operate 10 flights a week to Shanghai, China’s largest city, where a steady rise in Covid cases among international arrivals has put local officials under increasing pressure to tighten containment measures. The city registered five new cases on Thursday, all related to a resident who had recently returned from the United States.

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

CNN Business has asked for comment from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has the authority to suspend the eight weekly U.S. flights of four Chinese airlines.

China largely closed its borders in March 2020 and has continued to adhere 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 reduced, even as international travel is beginning to emerge in other parts of the world.
Last month, a Delta flight from Seattle to Shanghai was suspended due to a change in cleaning procedures at the Chinese airport that “significantly extended ground time and is not operationally viable,” the airline said. Chinese officials disputed the account, urging the carrier to “protect customers’ legitimate rights”.

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