By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
A Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Shanghai last week was turned around due to a change in cleaning rules at the China airport, the airline said.
Had he landed in Shanghai, Delta said the new rules would have caused significant delays.
“The new clean-up procedures require considerably extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta,” a spokesperson said of the Dec. 21 flight. Details of the new cleaning rules remain unclear.
Some passengers on the flight were left with expired Covid-19 test results and outdated U.S. visas, The New York Times reported, citing Chinese media reports.
The Chinese Embassy in the United States issued a statement saying press reports that the plane had to turn around due to a ban on inbound flights was “inconsistent with the facts.”
“The Chinese Embassy and Consulate in the United States are communicating with affected airlines to actively understand specific technical issues and discuss solutions to prevent similar incidents from recurring,” the statement said.
Air travel has become a major headache over the past week, with thousands of flights across the country delayed or canceled as the Omicron variant causes staff shortages and other issues. Worldwide, more than 2,300 flights were canceled on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.
China is rigorously implementing its zero Covid strategy ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
This forced residents of Xi’an, an ancient city in northwest Shaanxi province, to live in lockdown. This month, the city of 13 million people reported 810 local symptomatic cases, making it one of the worst epidemics in China since the first wave of coronavirus infections in Wuhan almost two years ago. .
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