MIAMI – The US Department of Transportation (DoT) announced it will restrict certain Chinese airline’s flights to 40% passenger capacity for a duration of four weeks.

The measure is being taken after China has imposed a similar limitation on four United Airlines (UA) flights, bound to Shanghai-Pudong (PVG), as a sanction for bringing in China five passengers from san Francisco (SFO) that eventually tested positive to Covid-19 after arrival. The sanction is being taken at a moment when Chinese students travel to the US to resume their studies.

China Airlines Airbus 350-900 B-1086. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

Four Chinese Airlines Affected

The DoT imposed sanctions are directed at four Chinese airlines, namely Air China (CA), China Southern (CZ), China Eastern (MU), and Xiamen Airlines (MF), and shall affect one flight per carrier over a period of four weeks.

On the Chinese side, UA was given a choice between three options to choose from starting from the cancellation of two SFO to PVG flights, operate two flights with no passengers on board, or operate four flights with a 40% limitation on passengers capacity.

The US DoT put forward that the Chinese policy is in violation of the bilateral agreement on air services in force between the two countries while putting the airline under “undue culpability on carriers with respect to travelers testing positive to Covid-19 after their landing in China.”

Xiamen Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner B-7836. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Lack of COVID-19 Test Verification

The government entity also pointed out that airlines do not have the capability to verify the tests presented by travelers at departure and that there is no proof of where and when the passenger got infected by the virus. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, China and the US have had cold relations on air traffic services issues.

US and China air services agreement allows more than 100 weekly flights to be operated from US airports to Chinese destinations, a number that is not currently being observed.

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Featured image: Air China B-7800 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways