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COVID-19: Foreign airline restrictions in China altered again

COVID-19: Foreign airline restrictions in China altered again

In response to Trump’s proposed restrictions on Chinese airlines flying into the USA, China will ease its restrictions on foreign airlines again, but only if passengers are COVID-19 free. Just dwell on the irony of that for a minute.


For the previous news on this, have a read of my post from earlier in the week.

Most international airlines suspended flights to China starting in mid-January when the SARS-like virus was first reported. More recently, China’s CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) has restricted flights by foreign carriers to one service a week for those who are not currently flying to China, and 2 for those already flying to China. And then in March, China changed the rule to one international service per country, per week.

In a tit-for-tat move, Trump this week threatened to ban Chinese based airlines from flying to the USA, if these restrictions stood.

Now China is saying that flights could increase to 2 per week, but only if no passengers tested positive for Coronavirus. Actually they have developed an interesting formula:

  • If 5 test positive – flights to be suspended for a week
  • If 10 test positive – flights to be suspended for 4 weeks

There is a whole other question as to whether given quarantine restrictions, airlines could successfully and economically crew such flights once a week, as this would mean crews hanging around in China for a week, while the airlines pay salary and accommodation. Innovative thinking might apply, by flying to somewhere close to China, like Seoul and avoiding quarantine and then shuttling passengers through to China. Delta Airlines are doing this with flights from Detroit to Shanghai via Seoul.

What does this mean for Australia and Qantas?

Not a lot, as Qantas was the only Australian airline flying to China pre-pandemic, and it doesn’t plan to resume international operations until Australia’s borders are re-opened. Excluding Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific) and Taiwan (Air China), the only other Chinese based airline I can see flying into Australia is China Southern Airlines, listed for this week between Guangzhou and Sydney. I only did a quick check of Sydney and Melbourne for the last few days – so this may not be correct.

a city skyline with tall buildings and a body of water

Green corridors

China is proposing to establish some ‘fast track’ services, also known as ‘green corridors’ between selected countries. South Korea, Singapore and the United Kingdom have so far been proposed. Australia has not been mooted, but you never know, especially if the issue of foreign students from China not being able to return to Australia for their studies is resolved.

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

I would expect more weirdness between China and the USA over flights as well as everything else, given the immaturity of behaviour of their two leaders. That might also rub off on Australia in the interim. Not that there has been anything weird between China and Australia.

Did I hear ‘beef’ or ‘iron ore’ exports?

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