BEIJING (AP) – Delta Air Lines said on Monday that new pandemic-related cleaning requirements at a Shanghai airport were behind the rollback of a recent flight from Seattle in flight, a move that prompted a protest from the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
An emailed statement said the new warrants at Shanghai Pudong International Airport “require considerably extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta.”
The rules and what prompted the change were unclear, but it comes as China tightens its already tight COVID-19 travel restrictions in the face of a growing epidemic in the city of Xi’an and ahead of the Olympic Games. Beijing winter in six weeks.
Xi’an, which is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Beijing, reported more than 300 new cases over the weekend, a large increase from the previous days. The city of 13 million people has been locked down, with only one person per household allowed to go out every other day to shop.
The Delta flight that returned to Seattle last week left passengers with expired COVID-19 test results and U.S. visas, according to Chinese media.
Two Taiwan-based airlines, China Airlines and EVA Air, have both cut the number of flights to Shanghai Pudong International Airport in recent days, citing new disinfection procedures that will take longer, the statement said. semi-official from Taiwan. Agency.
EVA is suspending flights from two cities to Shanghai until February 3. China Airlines is suspending flights from one city to Shanghai until the end of January and reducing the number of flights on another route.
The San Francisco consulate did not name Delta, but said in a brief statement on Sunday that many flights from the United States to China had been delayed or canceled in recent days, including one flight that turned around. to its destination.
The consulate “had made a harsh statement to the airline,” the statement said.