Jan 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration suspends 44 flights by Chinese airlines

Picture of Pete Buttigieg
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Transportation Department said on Friday that it is suspending 44 China-bound flights conducted by the country's airlines after the Chinese government canceled dozens of flights from American carriers.

Driving the news: Chinese authorities have suspended 44 flights since Dec. 31 from United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines due to coronavirus concerns.

What they're saying: DOT said that the Chinese government's actions "are adverse to the public interest and warrant proportionate remedial action by the Department."

  • Its "unilateral actions against the named U.S. carriers are inconsistent with the provisions of the agreement and are premised on circumstances wholly outside of the carriers’ control," the department added, referring to a U.S.-China bilateral agreement.

Details: DOT argued that China has a provision that allowed for carriers to choose "at their own discretion" how to react if five to nine passengers from any single inbound flight test positive for COVID-19 after arriving in China:

  • Suspending the flight for two weeks starting four weeks after the positive test, or imposing a 40% passenger limit.
  • The department said that Chinese officials' actions in canceling flights went against these rules.

State of play: DOT said the flight suspensions will begin Jan. 30.

  • The department said it would reverse its actions if Chinese officials "bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers."
  • But if more flights are canceled, the administration said it reserves "the right to take additional action as we deem appropriate in the circumstances presented."

Read the DOT's order:

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