China eases COVID-19 “circuit-breaker” for inbound international flights

M. Scheja /

China has loosened its COVID-19 flight restrictions by shortening the period it bans flight routes when incoming international flights are found to be carrying COVID-19 positive passengers. 

Beginning August 7, 2022, if 4% of passengers on an inbound flight test positive for COVID-19, the flight route will be subject to a one-week suspension, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). But if the proportion of infected passengers reaches 8% per flight, the airline’s route will be subject to a two-week suspension.  

Previously, all flights operating on the same route were suspended for at least two weeks if the government found five or more positive COVID-19 cases, under what is known as the circuit-breaker mechanism. 

“Relevant policies will be adjusted in due course according to the epidemic situation and prevention and control requirements,” the CAAC outlined in a statement. 

According to China’s aviation regulator, Chinese airlines carried a total of 117,000 passengers to international destinations in June 2022. This compares to 6.1 million passengers carried within the international market in June 2019. 

China is considered to be one of the strictest places in the world in terms of quarantine requirements and travel restrictions resulting from the global pandemic. As part of the country’s strict zero-COVID policy, millions of people in China have been placed under lockdown. 

Even though China is slowly easing travel restrictions for international flights, passengers wanting to get into the country are still facing some of the world’s toughest restrictions. 

On June 28, 2022, China reduced quarantine time for overseas passengers from 14 to seven days.  

Unlike China, many countries in Asia-Pacific have eased travel restrictions and opened borders to fully vaccinated passengers beginning February and March 2022. The easing of travel restrictions has resulted in significantly increased passenger numbers, such as for Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY). 


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Vyte Klisauskaite
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