MIAMI – After applying for flight resumptions in China, Delta Air Lines (DL) has announced that it will restart its Seattle-Shanghai-Pudong service via Seoul-Incheon on June 25.

The company is the first U.S. carrier to resume its China service since temporary travel suspensions were imposed in February due to COVID-19.

Flight resumptions accompanied by new measures

Following a prior refusal to start operations in the country by the Chinese government, DL will now include Shanghai Pudong-Seattle flights in its schedule with its A350 aircraft.

With the granted permission, the service via Seoul-Incheon will also come with unprecedented health and safety measures and practices, said DL’s President – Greater China and Singapore, Wong Hong.

The new safety standards, under the airline’s new Global Cleanliness Division, encompass face mask-wearing during check-in and flights, with a seating cap at 75% and 60%.

Besides cabin crew and aircraft cleaning processes, complimentary face masks will be available on request and hand sanitizer will be provided at check-in and boarding areas. The flights will be operated twice per week from June and once-weekly from July including Detroit, also via Incheon.

Photo: Airbus.

US-China flight operations surrounded by controversy

DL had previously announced that service to China might be a possibility in its schedule with the Chinese government approval of its request. United Airlines (UA) said the same about its summer flights.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) rejected the request and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) immediately responded with entry bans for Chinese airlines wanting to fly to the U.S.

After this back-and-forth, the CAAC then granted U.S. carriers requests to travel to China, with the U.S. DOT lifting its ban and allowing four weekly round trips between both countries thereafter.

As a result, UA will resume San Francisco-Shanghai flights starting on July 6. Conversely, Air China (CA), Xiamen Airlines (MF), China Eastern (MU), and China Southern (CZ) restarted operations, reported Business Times.