China Has Halted 60+ Flights From The US Over COVID Cases

More than 60 planned flights from the United States have been ordered to be canceled by China’s aviation regulator in response to positive COVID cases. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has mandated the cancelations of flights by both US airlines and Chinese carriers in a bid to prevent imported cases of the virus.

Delta has had more than a dozen scheduled services canceled. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

US airlines face cancelations

China’s zero COVID approach continues to bring pressure to the aviation industry both at home and abroad. Today, Reuters reports that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has mandated the cancelation of in excess of 60 different scheduled flights under its COVID prevention activities.

For airlines in the US, a total of 22 planned flights bound for Shanghai have been halted. Ten of these were due to be operated by Delta Air Lines, six by United and six by American. Today, the CAAC said that another two Delta flights from Detroit and six from Seattle to Shanghai were set to be canceled.

Delta has responded by pulling down all of its China nonstop services until October at least. Although it will maintain a one-stop service via Seoul, the change means crews will not have to stop overnight in Shanghai. The airline has also indicated that services from Los Angeles to China will not resume until November, and no services to Beijing will restart for the foreseeable.

United Airlines Boeing 777-200 Getty
Other US airlines are facing disrupted schedules too. Photo: Getty Images

United Airlines is facing disruption as well, with flights from San Francisco to Shanghai canceled for this week and next. American’s AA127 is being halted for four weeks after ten passengers tested positive on an arriving service on December 31st.

The CAAC says that, since the end of 2021, more than 50 passengers on these flights have been tested COVID positive. Delta’s DL287 from Seattle reportedly carried six COVID positive passengers on January 1st, and a further 11 on January 6th.

Chinese airlines also affected

It’s not just US airlines that are being affected by China’s stringent COVID rules. In total, some 42 US-bound flights set to be operated by Chinese carriers have been canceled. Most are operated by the ‘big three’ Chinese airlines – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines.

China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330
Chinese airlines are suffering as well. Photo: Getty Images

Although the Chinese aviation market saw some significant recovery early in the pandemic, thanks to a strong domestic demand, things have become difficult again in recent weeks. Localized outbreaks have seen provinces and cities entering snap lockdowns. Shanghai has reported a total of more than 250 imported COVID cases since January 1st.

Today, millions more people have been ordered into lockdown as China reported 110 new local transmissions of COVID. Eighty-seven of these were in Henan province, 13 in Shaanxi, and 10 in Tianjin. The Henan outbreak, which included some cases of the omicron variant, saw five million residents in the city of Anyang ordered to stay home.

The CAAC does not foresee a meaningful recovery in aviation this year. The regulator issued a new five-year development plan earlier this week, where is identified recovery beginning in 2023. It noted that 2023-2025 would be a growth period, where domestic aviation would expand, and international markets would be restored.