Coronavirus: Global situation

US slams China for cancelling flights due to positive cases

WASHINGTON • The Biden administration has criticised China's decision to cancel a growing number of flights from the United States to China because of passengers who later tested positive for Covid-19, warning that it could take action in response.

"China's actions are inconsistent with its obligations under the US-China Air Transport Agreement. We are engaging with the (Chinese government) on this and we retain the right to take regulatory measures as appropriate," a US Transportation Department spokesman said on Wednesday.

China on Wednesday ordered the suspension of six more US-to-China flights in the coming weeks after a surge in passengers testing positive for Covid-19, rising to 70 cancellations mandated this year in a schedule that had already been drastically cut back.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and others, said US carriers are in "communication with the US and Chinese governments to identify a path forward that minimises impact to travellers".

Before the latest cancellations, three US airlines and four Chinese carriers were operating about 20 flights a week between the countries, below the pre-pandemic figure of more than 100 a week.

China has cut total international flights to just 200 a week, or 2 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, the authorities had said in September.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2022, with the headline US slams China for cancelling flights due to positive cases. Subscribe