Travelers Stranded By China’s Flight Cancellations

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China has suspended dozens of flights between China and the United States due to passengers testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival, making booking a flight back even in February almost impossible

As of the last flight cancellations, international capacity to and from China was just 2 percent of pre-Covid levels due to the country’s strict zero-Covid policy of striking out all cases while other parts of the world have been able to open up international travel.

As a result of this mentality, Bank of America Securities analysts said in a note on Tuesday that it is likely to last most of 2022, which is bad news for the 845,000 foreign passport holders in China, whose number has already decreased since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Flight master, a Chinese aviation data provider, reported last Friday that 143 return flights were canceled by China’s civil aviation authority in January alone due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. This is the highest number since June 2020 when it started suspending flights when positive cases were identified.

Several European and Asian services have also been suspended, which present a major challenge for companies operating in China, according to a representative of the Europe Chamber of Commerce in China.

In China, passengers must start Covid tests seven days before boarding their direct flight into China. This makes it difficult to travel to China if you don’t live in an American city with direct flights.

Taiwan, Korea, and Japan are also considered transit hubs for US-China travelers, leading to the exclusion of less-costly indirect flights.

According to minister Jing Quan of Beijing’s embassy in Washington, Beijing and the U.S. State Department are attempting to strike a balance on the number of commercial flights to China. Charter flights to accommodate Olympians have not been impacted, he added.

Chinese Southern Airlines told the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that it is planning to fly its A380 superjumbos with cargo only from Los Angeles to Guangzhou and to fly passengers in the other direction.

China Eastern Airlines is also submitting an application for cargo-only flights using passenger planes, according to DOT filings. Hainan Airlines has already received US approval for cargo-only flights.

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