2020-06-04 08:22:48

China’s top aviation authority has rolled out a new plan to reward or punish airlines based on the number of COVID-19 cases detected on inbound international flights.

In an announcement Thursday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said air carriers will be granted one additional weekly flight if none of their passengers test positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks.

Meanwhile, any flights from which five passengers test positive for the disease will be suspended for one week, and those from which 10 passengers test positive will result in the airline being penalized with a four-week flight suspension, the announcement said.

The new rules are scheduled to take effect June 8, and will apply to both domestic and international carriers flying to China.

In March, China slashed international flights and temporarily barred foreigners from entering the country amid a surge in imported COVID-19 cases among overseas travelers. The same month, the CAAC also directed carriers to reduce all international routes to a single flight per week.

The weekly flight restrictions will continue until further notice, according to Thursday’s announcement.

Responding to China’s cutback on flights, the United States announced a similar measure Wednesday that prohibits all Chinese carriers from operating scheduled passenger flights to and from the country beginning June 16. The new measure will affect more than half a dozen Chinese airlines, including Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the CAAC is “seriously negotiating” with the U.S. to address the issue.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Alonzo Design/Getty Creative/People Visual, re-edited by Sixth Tone)