Washington: The United States has suspended 26 passenger flights operated by Chinese carriers after Beijing’s aviation agency took similar action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) said on Thursday. Announcing the decision, the USDOT cited the cancellation of 26 flights of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines over Covid-19 cases.
The latest US suspension will affect several flights from China scheduled for the month of September. “We, therefore, conclude that the public interest now requires a further modification, effective immediately, of Order 2020-6-1, to limit Chinese carriers’ scheduled services accordingly,” the US Transportation Department said in an order on Thursday.
“In the circumstances presented, we have decided to suspend twenty-six (26) US to China passenger flight segments.” The US Transportation Department said the Civil Aviation Authority of China suspended 26 flights of US carriers after a rising number of passengers arriving from the United States were testing positive for COVID-19. The order suspends a combined 26 flights scheduled to depart Los Angeles International Airport throughout September for Air China Limited, Chinese Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines.
The US Transportation Department said the order is effective immediately. Liu Pengyu, the spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the US, said the USDOT action was “extremely irresponsible” and “groundlessly” suspended Chinese airline flights, CNBC reported.
China’s Covid-19 “circuit breaker” measures were fair and transparent, applied both to Chinese and foreign airlines and were consistent with bilateral air transportation agreements, the embassy added. This is not the first time the two economic giants have clashed over air services since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Back in August last year, US limited four flights from Chinese carriers to 40 per cent passenger capacity for four weeks after Beijing imposed identical limits on four United Airlines flights.