Delta Flight to China Turns Back

Airline blames new COVID cleaning rules at Shanghai airport
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2021 11:30 AM CST
Delta Flight to China Turns Back
Passengers wearing face masks stand near a domestic and international flights information board at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai in July.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

With coronavirus cases climbing and the Winter Olympics in Beijing nearing, China is rigorously following its zero COVID policies. Delta Air Lines has blamed one of the strategies at the Shanghai airport after a flight from Seattle turned around, midair, last week, rather than continue on to China, CNN reports. "The new cleaning procedures require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta," an airline spokesperson said. No one has said what the new cleaning procedures are.

The Chinese Consulate in San Francisco expressed its displeasure without mentioning Delta, per the AP. In a statement, the consulate said many US-China flights have been canceled or delayed recently, including one that was more than halfway there before turning back. Chinese officials "had made a stern representation to the airline," the statement said. China Airlines and EVA Air also have canceled flights recently to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Taiwan media report; the airlines are based in Taiwan.

China's embassy in the US said it and the consulate are "communicating with relevant airlines to actively understand specific technical issues and discuss solutions to avoid similar incidents from happening again." State media reported that the cancellation left Chinese citizens on the Delta flight holding visas and COVID-19 test results that had expired, per People. More than 300 new infections were reported over the holiday weekend in Xi'an, though the city was put on indefinite lockdown last week. The city of 13 million has logged 810 cases in all, per the New York Times. (More China stories.)

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