The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has decided to suspend 26 flights operated by Chinese carriers in response to a similar decision by the Chinese government to ban some flights operated by U.S. airlines over COVID-19 cases.
A Reuters report reveals that the DOT’s decision will affect flights from the US to China operated by Xiamen, Air China, China Southern Airlines (ZNH) and China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA) from September 5, to September 28, 2022.
According to the report, 19 China-bound flights from Los Angeles and seven China Eastern flights from New York are included in the suspension.
The USDOT decided on this course of action following the cancellation of 26 US airline flights, operated by American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, by the Chinese government due to COVID-19 cases.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, labeled the action as “extremely irresponsible” emphasizing that the USDOT has “groundlessly suspended Chinese airline flights,” the Reuters report continues.
The Chinese Embassy stated that its restrictions were implemented on both Chinese and foreign airlines.
However, the USDOT stated that it disagreed with restrictions imposed by China, which measure the number of passengers who test positive for COVID-19 on flights bound to China from the US.
According to these restrictions, a flight is suspended if 4% of the total number of passengers on the flight test positive for COVID-19, and two flights are suspended if 8% of the total number of passengers onboard test positive.
However, this tit-for-tat situation between the two governments has been going on since the start of the pandemic.
According to Reuters, in January 2022, the USDOT suspended 44 China-bound flights from the United States by the four Chinese airlines following China’s decision to suspend 44 flights by U.S. airlines.