Ethiopian Airlines has had its ban extended on its flight from Addis Ababa to Shanghai Pudong. The flight has already been banned for five weeks, but Chinese authorities agreed to an extension as more passengers have tested positive for COVID-19. The ban continues until at least January 1st, 2021.
Ethiopian Airlines received its first temporary suspension way back in August after six people tested positive. However, the ban lasted just one week. China enforced the second ban because five passengers on flight ET684 on October 6th tested positive for COVID-19. Another ten tested positive a week later on October 13th. Starting from October 26th, the ban was set to last just five weeks.
However, another 11 passengers have now tested positive on October 20th. This means Ethiopian Airlines is responsible for transporting at least 32 COVID-infected people into China since August. As a result of the latest tests, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has added four weeks to the original five-week ban.
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The Chinese Authorities have set some very clear rules and policies when it comes to giving out suspensions. Firstly, any flight can be suspended for one week if five individuals on the same flight test positive on arrival in China. If the number of positive on the same flight reaches ten, the suspension can last four weeks.
The new policy came into effect in June and is referred to as a “circuit breaker” policy. The aim is to prevent other infectious passengers from arriving. As well as introducing flight bans, the new policy restricts the number of flights arriving in China.
Initially, foreign airlines can only operate one route into the country once a week. Airlines can earn more regular flights if they consistently have zero positive cases on flights. After three consecutive weeks of no positive tests, foreign airlines can up their flights to twice weekly. Therefore, the policy lends itself to benefit airlines that require negative tests before boarding or those that originate in countries with a low number of cases.
So far, China has been pretty consistent in enforcing its policy across both foreign and domestic airlines. Flights operated by China Eastern Airlines, Russian carrier Aeroflot, Etihad Airways, Juneyao Air, and Sri Lankan Airlines have all been temporarily banned. According to CH-Aviation.com, even more bans are expected to occur this week, including an Emirates flight to Guangzhou and tow China Southern flights to Dhaka and Manila.
It’s highly likely that Ethiopian won’t be the last airline to receive a ban. Although, at the moment, it has certainly received the longest ban. China is clearly taking repeat offending very seriously.
At the time of publication, Ethiopian Airlines has not responded to a request for comment. We will update this article if a comment is provided.
What do you think of Ethiopian’s extended ban? Do you think China’s new policy is working? Let us know what you think in the comments.