US airlines say China forces cancellation of flights

US airlines reported Tuesday that China has prevented more than a dozen recent and future flights from entering that country, which has tightened its already strict travel restrictions related to Covid-19.

China ordered the cancellations after some passengers tested positive for the virus on flights arriving in China in late December, according to industry officials.

American Airlines said Tuesday that six of its flights from Dallas-Forth Worth airport to Shanghai scheduled for late January and early February have been canceled. United Airlines said it was forced to cancel six flights from San Francisco to Shanghai scheduled for the end of the month. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines said it canceled a flight last week and another that left this Friday for Shanghai.

Airlines for America, which represents America’s largest commercial and cargo airlines, said it is already discussing the matter with Chinese and US officials to find a way to minimize the impact on travelers.

The administration of US President Joe Biden did not comment.

The flight ban is the latest development in a dispute between the two nations over international flights and rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

China has increased travel restrictions following recent Covid-19 outbreaks as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in early February. China limits the capacity of incoming flights – currently at 75% – and requires passengers to undergo diagnostic tests before departure and upon arrival in the country.

If there are passengers who test positive for the virus, the airline that took them may be forced to cancel two to four flights, depending on the number of cases.

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