France and Germany are trying to join forces to theorize with China over the unreasonable ban on flights to China. China has set a rule that if a flight has five positive tests for Newcastle pneumonia, the airline is grounded for two weeks from flying to that city in China; if the flight is found to have 10 positive passengers, the airline is grounded for a month. France and Germany have been routinely grounded for some time. Although France and Germany reciprocally punish Chinese flights, the grounding still causes great inconvenience to passengers. France and Germany condemned that not only China does not dare to make the same measures for U.S. flights, but even more so, a large percentage of the passengers who tested positive, were Chinese, who either departed from Africa, in transit, with a test certificate issued by the Chinese Embassy, but were tested positive, and Chinese flights refused to let these Chinese board at all, but their positive results let Air France and Lufthansa take the blame. France and Germany are hoping to resolve this thorny issue with China before the school season resumes in the fall.
According to an AFP report today, air travel was suspended after passengers were tested positive for New Coronary Pneumonia upon arrival in China. In response to Chinese sanctions against their companies, Paris and Berlin are in turn blaming Beijing for the airline.
China, which broke out in late 2019, has virtually closed its borders since March 2020, restricting international air travel to once per week per airline and per destination city. While China has since shown near eradication of the infectious virus, it remains on alert, imposing strict restrictions on people coming from abroad and subjecting them to at least two weeks of quarantine, depending on their destination.
However, this policy was accompanied by sanctions against airlines.
After six positive cases were found on the arrival of an Air France flight from Paris to Tianjin in northern China in late June, the French company was suspended on the route for two weeks as a result. Its flights on July 8 and 15 were thus canceled to this city near Beijing, according to a statement from the company. In response, Paris decided to also suspend flights of three Chinese airlines serving the French destination: Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
In the end, hundreds of passengers were forced to postpone their trips, find tickets at high prices or simply abandon their trips, AFP said.
French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the subject with Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a virtual meeting in early July. The two European leaders want to resume airline operations, according to the French presidential palace, the Élysée Palace.
According to an industry expert, Paris wants to reach an agreement with Beijing to suspend the flight ban.
The same source said that, along with Germany, France is the only country that has systematically responded to the ban on Chinese flights with similar reciprocal measures.
“Since February 2021, German airlines have been repeatedly affected by the suspension of flights by the Chinese authorities,” the German Foreign Ministry told AFP, according to the German Foreign Ministry, adding that “in response to this situation, Germany has reciprocally suspended flights of Chinese airlines.”
The reciprocal suspensions have increased since China implemented what is being called its “circuit breaker” policy in mid-2020: If five positive cases are found among arriving passengers, a route will be grounded for two weeks. If 10 or more cases are found, the penalty increases to a one-month suspension.
Since the measure came into effect, Air France has been subject to about 15 flight bans.
The frequency of sanctions has increased in recent weeks as many administrators and students try to travel between the two countries before the new school year begins in September.
Both Paris and Berlin feel discriminated against, according to the industry expert, who said that the foreign airlines banned from flying account for two-thirds of those affected by flight cancellations, while Chinese airlines account for only one-third. He was also surprised that no U.S. airline was affected by such measures, despite the prevalence of the virus in the United States.
According to one German diplomat, “In our opinion, these suspensions have a distorting effect on competition.” The German diplomat said the companies in question “did not violate the requirements of the Chinese authorities in terms of infection control and were suspended from flights and can appeal.”
What makes France and Germany even more unhappy, AFP said, is that their flights to China carry passengers who are almost exclusively Chinese, who board the plane upon presentation of health codes and PCR and serology tests verified by their respective Chinese embassies upon departure and transfer. In the case of Air France, which in principle has only one flight per week to Tianjin and two to Shanghai, the company is faced with Chinese passengers boarding from Africa to China and connecting in Paris. Some of them tested positive on arrival in France, despite the fact that they had certificates from China saying they were in good health.
But France could not send them back to their place of departure or let them loose on French and European soil because they did not have visas. Therefore, those Chinese who tested positive were quarantined in a hotel in the airport area for two weeks. At the end of this period, if they tested negative, it was Air France that eventually sent them to China, as all Chinese airlines refused to accept them on board.
Upon arrival in China, some of them were found to be carrying the New Coronavirus again, which led to penalties being imposed on Air France, which had allowed them to board the plane.