China to suspend more incoming U.S. flights as Shanghai reports COVID-19 cluster

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Airbus A321 plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Airbus A321-200 plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

January 14, 2022

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday suspended four more incoming U.S. flights, bringing the total cancellation this year to 74, as COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant soared to record highs in the United States.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) also ordered the suspension of another 26 flights from other parts of the world, including Melbourne, Frankfurt, Paris, Toronto and Cairo, with flight disruptions set to extend into February.

The recent flurry of flight cancellations came on top of an already drastically scaled back schedule. Total international flights to the country stood at just 200 a week, or 2% of pre-pandemic levels, CAAC said in September.

The regulator on Friday ordered American Airlines to cancel two more flights from Dallas to Shanghai from the week of Jan. 24, while ordering Delta Air Lines to suspend two more flights from Detroit to Shanghai from the same week.

Zhang Wenhong, director of a COVID-19 treatment team in Shanghai, said on Thursday the public health clinic in the commercial hub faced a record number of infections arriving from overseas.

Shanghai, which is the arrival city for a majority of international flights into the country, on Thursday reported two local confirmed COVID-19 cases and three asymptomatic cases, all tied to an imported infection from the United States.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu, Judy Hua and Tony Munroe; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)