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February 14 2022 12:00 am

Delta says flight from Seattle to Shanghai turned back due to COVID-19 rules

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Several dozen mothballed Delta Air Lines jets are parked on a closed runway at Kansas City International Airport on Thursday, May 14, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(The Hill) — Delta on Monday said it was forced to turn a flight heading to Shanghai from Seattle around midair due to pandemic-related cleaning requirements at the destination airport.

Delta said in a statement to The Hill that the new cleaning mandates in place at Shanghai Pudong International Airport “require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta.”

The returned flight resulted in a number of passengers having expired COVID-19 tests and U.S. visas, according to The Associated Press. Delta, however, was not the only airline to change its policy surrounding flights to the Shanghai airport, one of two in the city.

China Airlines and EVA Air, both based out of Taiwan, have limited the number of flights to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, also citing the new disinfection procedures, Taiwan News reported.

EVA Air said that its flights, as well as those operated by its subsidiary UNI Air flying from Taipei Songshan Airport and from Kaohsiung to Pudong would be canceled until Feb. 3. Returning flights to Taiwan will still operate though.

The airlines are changing their flight plans just as China has begun to roll out new, stricter restrictions to combat the latest and harshest COVID-19 outbreak the country has seen in months.

China is sticking to its “zero-COVID” strategy of extended quarantines, according to Al Jazeera, and is imposing targeted lockdowns and tight border restrictions as it prepares to welcome thousands of foreign guests for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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