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US halts flights by Chinese airlines amid COVID-19 conflict

In response to Beijing’s suspension of American carriers’ flights, the U.S. government is halting 26 flights by Chinese airlines from the US to China due to a dispute over anti-virus regulations.

The Department of Transportation filed a complaint against Beijing on Thursday, alleging that it had broken an air transport agreement and treated airlines unjustly by requiring them to cancel flights if travellers test positive for COVID-19.

The Department of Transportation reports that seven flights by Air China Ltd. from New York City and a total of 19 flights by Air China, China Eastern Airlines Ltd., China Southern Airlines Ltd., and Xiamen Airlines Ltd. from Los Angeles have been suspended by U.S. regulators.

In accordance with Beijing’s “circuit-breaker” mechanism, it was stated that this was equivalent to the amount of flights that United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines were compelled to cancel.

While other nations are adjusting to living with the sickness, China’s “zero COVID” policy is designed to keep the virus out of the country. This has reduced the number of cases while causing disruptions in travel, production, and commerce. Beijing is relaxing travel restrictions, but most foreigners are still not allowed to enter China.

According to DoT, up until August 7 if up to nine people on a flight tested positive, a carrier might suspend a flight for two weeks or limit the number of passengers it carried to 40% of the total. It stated that as of August 7, airlines are compelled to cancel a flight if 4% or more of its passengers tested positive.

The regulator expressed dissatisfaction that airlines bear “undue culpability” for travellers who test negative before boarding but positive after landing in China.

The U.S. statement claimed that China’s measures were based on factors totally beyond the carriers’ control.

If Beijing implements “further circuit-breaker actions,” “We reserve the right to take additional action,” the statement added.

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