Etihad Airways has been hit with a one-week Chinese flight ban after six passengers on the same flight tested positive for COVID-19. Etihad is currently flying just once a week from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai – the positive cases were detected on Etihad Airways flight EY862 on August 3. The suspension will begin on August 17 according to a notice posted on the website of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Along with Etihad Airways, two other airlines will also face temporary flight bans after passengers tested positive for COVID-19. China Eastern is to banned from operating flight MU212 from Manila to Shanghai for one week, while Sri Lanka Airlines flight UL866 from Colombo to Shanghai has been hit with a four-week ban.
Six passengers on an August 3 China Eastern flight tested positive for the novel Coronavirus, while 23 passengers tested positive on the August 7th Sri Lanka Airlines flight from Colombo.
Etihad Airways said in response to the flight suspension that it would require all passengers travelling to Shanghai to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of travel. The airline requires all passengers to present a negative test certificate but this can be dated within 96 hours of travel for all other destinations.
Flights to China are still heavily controlled to prevent passengers importing COVID-19 back into the country and civil aviation regulators say they have introduced “circuit breaking measures” to stop inbound flights if necessary.
Despite a recent rise in imported cases, however, sources quoted by the Global Times (an English language mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party) said that transfers to the mainland through Hong Kong may soon be allowed to resume.
The news came on the same day that Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific posted a record $1.28 billion loss for the first half of 2020. Along with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathay Pacific was also hit by the fallout from months-long pro-democracy protests.
Increasing tensions between China and a number of Western countries, including the United States, make the outlook for Cathay Pacific even more uncertain. The airline has also trimmed back its capacity forecast in the months ahead as ongoing travel restrictions make it all but impossible for many passengers to travel with confidence.
In Europe, where some travel restrictions are being reimposed, Finnair said it would start cutting back its flight schedule in September on lower than expected travel demand. The airline had originally published ambitious restart plans but will now only operate 30 per cent of its pre-COVID schedule next month.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.