Beginning October 26th, Ethiopian Airlines must suspend its operations to Shanghai for a full five weeks. Fifteen passengers on one of the carrier’s flights tested positive for COVID-19, which violates China’s “circuit breaker” regulation. Most of the infected people seem to have had their pre-departure tests done at the same facility.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has hit Ethiopian Airlines with a five-week suspension of operations. The East African carrier is banned from flying its route from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport to Shanghai’s Pudong for five weeks beginning October 26th.
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Fifteen passengers on the same flight
The ban is a result of as many as 15 passengers from flight ET684 on October 6th testing positive for coronavirus. Five of them showed positive results immediately upon arrival and were quarantined at the airport. Another ten tested positive a week later, on October 13th.
China requires all international travelers to have a negative PCR test done no later than 48 hours before departure. Somewhat ironically, the people who tested positive on Ethiopian’s October 6th flight had received their pre-departure test certificates from Silk Road General Hospital, a Chinese-owned COVID-19 testing center in Addis Ababa.
No longer accepting certain certificates
As a result, Ethiopian says it will no longer accept passengers with COVID-19 tests done at Silk Road General Hospital,
“We are discussing the matter with Chinese authorities to restore our operation. Meanwhile, we are informing our passengers not to test with the above-mentioned hospital since we have suspended the acceptance of PCR test results from this hospital,” the airline said in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
The CAAC’s rules state that if any passenger from an incoming international flight tests positive for COVID-19, it bans the airline from operating flights into China for a week. If more than ten passengers test positive, then the CAAC extends the ban to four weeks.
This is not the first suspension for Ethiopian’s Addis Ababa to Shanghai service. The CAAC prohibited the airline from operating the route for a week from August 31st after five passengers tested positive on an earlier flight.
Not the only airline with a lengthy ban
Ethiopian is also not the only carrier suspended for five weeks by the CAAC. Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot will also not be able to operate its Moscow to Shanghai service for four weeks starting on October 26th. The decision was prompted after 11 passengers tested positive on Flight SU208 on October 9th.
The lengthy flight ban follows a previous suspension of one week, which started on October 19th, after eight passengers from an October 2nd flight tested positive.
Several other airlines have had to pause operations to Shanghai since the CAAC implemented the “circuit breaker” rule on June 4th. In August, Etihad received a one-week suspension for its flights from Abu Dhabi.
One month later, China Eastern suspended its flights from Manila in the Philippines to Shanghai. Two passengers on the service were found to wilfully have tampered with their test results, changing them from positive to negative, to be able to fly.
What do you think of China’s regulations? Is it an effective way of keeping imported cases out of the country? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.