Shanghai’s COVID measures target international flights – sources

Passengers wearing masks are seen at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China January 27, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

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BEIJING, April 7 (Reuters) – Chinese authorities are telling foreign airlines they must have more empty seats on international flights upon arrival at Shanghai’s Pudong airport, sources said on Thursday, as part of a measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases.

Shanghai, China’s financial hub and its most populous urban center, is grappling with the country’s largest COVID outbreak, locking down nearly all of its 26 million people and massively disrupting daily life and business. . Read more

Two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that flights arriving in Shanghai from overseas are expected to have a load factor – an airline industry measure of seat occupancy – of just 40% of next Monday until the end of the month.

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This compares to a previous load factor cap of 75%, as airline authorities seek to limit international passenger arrivals and help prevent the spread of infections on planes.

The move will likely add to the headaches of many travelers stranded overseas, as international capacity to and from China has remained at only a fraction of its pre-COVID level. The country has stuck to a zero COVID policy of eradicating all cases regardless of the economic costs.

“If they can’t control COVID (in Shanghai) and extend it beyond April, it’s going to be very difficult for everyone,” an industry source said.

The country’s aviation regulator has also suspended a growing number of international flights in recent months under its ‘circuit breaker’ system as cases of Omicron surge overseas, prompting the US government to fight back. and to cancel the flights of Chinese carriers. Read more

International flights to Shanghai operated by domestic airlines have already been diverted to land elsewhere from March 21 to May 1, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced in March.

The CAAC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Reporting by Stella Qiu, Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Editing by David Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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