The Biden administration, on Jan. 21, announced that 44 flights from four Chinese airlines had been canceled, citing Beijing’s violation of the air travel agreement between both countries. 

The suspension will take effect on Jan. 30 and will first apply to Xiamen Airlines picking up passengers from Los Angeles. The penalty would remain until at least March 29.

The move came after Beijing canceled flights to its country from American, Delta, and United airlines due to its so-called COVID-19 “circuit breaker” policy. 

Reiterating pandemic control, China ordered that airlines will have their subsequent flights suspended if they carry more than five passengers who test positive for the virus within seven days of arrival—even if they tested negative before boarding.

According to the Wall Street Journal, since Dec. 31, last year, Beijing has terminated a number of flights from 3 U.S. airlines to its country. They include 20 flights from United Airlines, 10 from American Airlines, and 14 from Delta.

The Department of Transport (DOT) said, “We find that CAAC’s (the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s) recent actions impairing the operations of Delta, American, and United as described above are adverse to the public interest and warrant proportionate remedial action by the Department.”

The DOT said China’s blockage equates to a “bilateral agreement” violation between both countries. Although the department said it was ready to review decisions if China would do so, it warned that there would be “additional action” if the country decided not to cooperate.

Responding to Washington, Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said it was unreasonable and urged the U.S. to lift its restrictions. He stated that China’s policies were indifferent to those of other nations’ airlines. However, Liu did not mention any possibility that Beijing would revise its measures.

Reuters reported from the DOT that both France and Germany have also used similar responses to the U.S. against China’s blockage.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing three U.S. airlines affected by China’s moves and other firms, said they support Washington’s actions because it can “ensure the fair treatment of U.S. airlines in the Chinese market.”

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