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More than two dozen flights by four Chinese airlines bound for the country will be suspended by the U.S. government over the next month in an act of retaliation against Beijing’s similar suspension of American flights, the U.S. announced Thursday.
American officials cited China’s cancellation of 26 American-bound flights as the reason for the decision.
The U.S. Department of Transportation also claims that Chinese authorities implemented a policy earlier in August where if 4% of passengers on a China-bound flight tested positive for COVID-19, it would be suspended. Two flights would be suspended if it reached 8%.
The U.S. decision, which impacts flights from Sept. 5 to Sept. 28, affects Xiamen, China Southern Airlines, Air China and China Eastern Airlines.
Nineteen of the suspended flights are from Los Angeles, while the remaining seven are from New York.
Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, criticized the Transportation Department’s announcement, calling it “extremely irresponsible” and saying it “groundlessly suspended Chinese airline flights.”
The travel-related sparring between Beijing and Washington is not unusual. The move follows the Transportation Department’s decision to suspend 44 China-bound flights in January.
China had suspended the same amount of flights – 44 – to the United States that month.
Over 100 weekly flights between the U.S. and China were commonplace before the pandemic. The current number of weekly flights between the two countries hovers around 20.
Reuters contributed to this report.