China extends suspension on flights to, from UK: CAAC
Published: Jan 10, 2021 06:18 PM

File Photo: Xinhua

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said on Sunday that flights to and from the UK will remain suspended from Monday in order to further properly respond to the possible impact of the mutant novel coronavirus. 

Airlines are required to continue to provide services such as helping passengers and arranging ticket refunds and changes for cancelled flights, according to a notice issued by the CAAC.

The agency earlier announced a suspension of flights to and from the UK from December 28 to January 10.

Taking into account the practices of other countries, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on December 24 the suspension of flights to and from the UK due to a new coronavirus strain.

"Considering the specific nature of the virus and its possible impact, in order to protect the health of Chinese and foreign personnel, China has decided to suspend flights to and from the UK after a full assessment and taking into account the practices of other countries," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

A variation of the novel coronavirus was recently detected in the UK and the World Health Organization has been notified. Since then, more than 40 countries and regions have announced measures such as closing borders and banning flights from the UK.

The situation related to COVID-19 remains severe, with some areas of China experiencing cluster outbreaks, and the pressure of imported COVID-19 cases is also mounting, although there is little chance that a large-scale outbreak will occur, experts said.

As of December 20, the CAAC had issued 140 suspension instructions to Chinese and foreign airlines (54 domestic and 86 foreign), and it canceled 272 international flights last year, effectively preventing the importation of further cases.

Also last week, the CAAC suspended flights by Iranian Mahan Airlines flight W5081 from Tehran to Guangzhou and Egyptair flight MS953 from Cairo to Hangzhou.

According to the CAAC policy, if all inbound passengers on an airline test negative for COVID-19 for three weeks in a row, the operating airline will be allowed to increase its number of flights to two per week.

If the number of passengers testing positive reaches five, the airline's flights will be suspended for a week. The suspension will last for four weeks if the number of passengers who test positive for COVID-19 reaches 10.