American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. said Chinese aviation regulators have blocked some of their flights from entry as the country steps up precautions against Covid-19, triggering discussions between industry representatives and government agencies.
At least six of American’s flights have been barred from China, a spokesperson said Tuesday, declining to provide further details. United canceled flights from San Francisco to Shanghai on six days in late January. Delta Air Lines Inc. declined to comment.
The flights are among 60 between the two countries that the Civil Aviation Administration of China has ordered canceled because passengers tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in the country, Reuters reported, including 22 by U.S. carriers. The action is the latest scuffle between the U.S. and China over flights between the countries and changing requirements to help contain the spread of coronavirus.
“U.S. airlines are concerned about the implications of a disruption and are continuing to assess the impact to operations,” Airlines for America, the lobbying group for major U.S. carriers, said in a statement. “We are in communication with the U.S. and Chinese governments to identify a path forward that minimizes impact to travelers.”
Play VideoUnited normally has four weekly flights from San Francisco to Shanghai, while American operates to the Chinese city from Dallas-Fort Worth twice a week. Delta flies twice weekly from Detroit and Seattle to Shanghai. Airlines for America didn’t comment on the total number of canceled flights by U.S. carriers.
The U.S. engaged China in talks in late December after possible changes to new aircraft-cleaning requirements prompted a Delta flight to return to Seattle. The new mandates — spurred by the spread of Covid-19 — significantly extend the time planes are on the ground and largely copy steps that U.S. airlines already take to clean between flights, industry representatives said then.
Certain Covid-related restrictions China has imposed on airlines from other countries violate a treaty governing air travel between the two nations, the U.S. has said. On Aug. 18, the U.S. Department of Transportation imposed restrictions on Chinese airline flights to America after the Chinese government restricted capacity on United Airlines flights to that nation.
Hong Kong is set to bar air passengers from designated high-risk countries from traveling through Hong Kong International Airport, people familiar with the matter said. It’s the latest move in the financial hub’s aggressive effort to shield itself from the omicron coronavirus variant.