The United States suspends 44 U.S. flights from Chinese airlines following China’s action
The United States suspends 44 U.S. flights from Chinese airlines following China’s action

The United States suspends 44 U.S. flights from Chinese airlines following China’s action

A passenger wearing a mask, amid the health hazard of the new coronavirus, arrives on a direct flight from China to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on January 24, 2020. REUTERS / Kamil Krzaczynski / File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. government said Friday it would suspend 44 flights to China from the U.S. by four Chinese airlines in response to the Chinese government’s decision to suspend flights by some U.S. carriers due to COVID-19 problems.

The suspensions begin Jan. 30 with Xiamen Airlines’ scheduled Los Angeles-to-Xiamen flight and run through March 29, the Department of Transportation said.

The decision will cut off some flights from Xiamen, Air China (601111.SS)China Southern Airlines (600029.SS) and China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS).

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Since December 31, Chinese authorities have suspended 20 United Airlines, 10 American Airlines (AAL.O)and 14 Delta Air Lines (DAL.N)flights after some passengers tested positive for COVID-19. As recently as Tuesday, the Department of Transportation said the Chinese government had announced new U.S. flight cancellations.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said on Friday that the policy of international passenger flights entering China has “become on an equal footing with Chinese and foreign airlines in a fair, open and transparent manner.”

He called the US move “very unreasonable” and added: “We urge the US side to stop disrupting and restricting normal passenger flights” from Chinese airlines. “

Airlines for America, a trade group representing the three U.S. airlines affected by China’s movement along with others, said they supported Washington’s action “to ensure fair treatment of U.S. airlines in the Chinese market.”

The Ministry of Transport said that France and Germany have taken similar measures against China’s COVID-19 actions. It said China’s suspension of the 44 flights “is detrimental to the public interest and justifies proportionate remedial action.” It added that China’s “unilateral actions against the named US airlines are incompatible” with a bilateral agreement.

China has also suspended several US flights from Chinese airlines after passengers were later tested positive.

The department said it was ready to review its action if China revised its “policies to create the necessary improved situation for US carriers.” It warned that if China cancels more flights, “we reserve the right to take further action.”

China has almost closed its borders to travelers, reducing the total number of international flights to just 200 a week, or 2% of pre-pandemic levels, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in September.

The number of U.S. planes being scrapped has risen since December, as infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus rose to record highs in the United States.

Beijing and Washington have been sparring about air services since the beginning of the pandemic. In August, the U.S. Department of Transportation restricted four flights from Chinese airlines to 40% passenger capacity for four weeks after Beijing imposed identical limits on four United Airlines flights.

Prior to the recent cancellations, three US airlines and four Chinese airlines operated about 20 flights a week between the countries, well below the figure of more than 100 a week before the pandemic.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Mark Porter and David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters trust principles.

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