MIAMI – Ethiopian Airlines (ET), today extended the ban on flights from Addis Ababa to Shanghai Pudong. The ban has been in place for five weeks. The Chinese authorities have agreed to the extension valid until January 1, 2021, due to COVID-19 positive cases of some passengers on the route.

An Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner in happier times. (Credits: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt)

Suspension Since Summer

Ethiopian Airlines received its first temporary suspension in the summer, in the month of August, sparking a one-week ban on flights. This was due to six passengers testing positive for COVID-19. China found five other positive cases on ET684 on October 6. Then, 10 more a week later, on October 13. In addition, 11 other positive cases were found on October 20.

This means that Ethiopian Airlines is responsible for carrying 32 positive passengers to China as of August. As a result, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC), added another four weeks after the original one-week ban.

Following the ban, ET decided to postpone the Addis Ababa-Beijing route until January 1, 2021. This is a serious blow for those who have to return to China.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800NG Photo: Ethiopian Airlines

CAAC Policy

The rules of the CAAC are clear: if there are five COVID-19 positives on the same flight, the route halt will be valid for one week. If the number of positive people on the same flight is 10, the suspension can last up to four weeks.

This new policy went into effect in June and serves to prevent contagious passengers from arriving. In addition to introducing flight bans, the new policy also limits the number of flights to China.

Ethiopian Airlines takes delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8. (PRNewsfoto/Boeing)

Other Suspensions

Until now, China has respected the policy of both foreign and domestic airlines. Flights operated by China Eastern Airlines (MU), Russian carrier Aeroflot (SU), Etihad Airways (EY), and SriLankan Airlines (UL) have all been temporarily banned.

In addition, bans are planned for other airline routes, including Emirates (EK) flights to Guangzhou and China Southern Airlines (CZ) flights to Dhaka and Manila. ET will not be the last company to receive bans for flights to China.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787. Photo: Ethiopian Airlines