WASHINGTON/BEIJING: China’s aviation regulator has ordered the cancellation of more than 60 scheduled flights from the United States in recent weeks after numerous passengers tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in China.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has mandated the cancellations of 22 total scheduled US passenger airline flights for Shanghai under its COVID-19 pandemic rules: 10 by Delta Air Lines, six from United Airlines and six American Airlines flights.
Delta said it cancelled Detroit to Shanghai flights last Friday and for Jan 14 due to the Chinese rule requiring “all affected carriers”, whose passengers test positive for COVID-19, “to cancel inbound service on certain China flights”.
The CAAC said on Tuesday that it would cancel another two Delta flights from Detroit to Shanghai and another six Delta flights from Seattle to Shanghai from next week – bringing total cancellations to 10 for the airline.
The regulator has also canceled 42 other US-bound flights operated by Chinese carriers after positive COVID-19 tests.
Most of these canceled flights are operated by China’s three biggest airlines, according to a Reuters tally of flight suspensions for the new year.
The US is facing a surge in infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant and on Monday had 132,646 people hospitalized with COVID, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in Jan 2021.
The seven-day average for new cases has doubled in the last 10 days to 704,000.
United said it had been forced to cancel flights from San Francisco to Shanghai scheduled for Jan 15, 19, 22, and 26. The Chicago-based carrier flies from San Francisco to Shanghai four times weekly.
The US Transportation Department (USDOT) did not immediately comment late Monday.