The US government has suspended 26 Chinese airline flights from the United States to China over a dispute over coronavirus controls following a similar move by Beijing.

The US Department of Transportation complained Thursday that Beijing violated an air transport agreement and unfairly treated airlines based on a system that forces them to suspend flights if passengers test positive for COVID-19.

U.S. regulators canceled seven Air China Ltd. flights departing from New York City and 19 others departing from Los Angeles operated by Air China, China Eastern Airlines Ltd., China Southern Airlines Ltd. and Xiamen Airlines Ltd., the department said.

According to the agency, it was the same number of United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines flights that had to be suspended due to Beijing’s policy to curb the spread of infections.

The “zero COVID” strategy of the ruling Communist Party seeks to prevent the virus from crossing the country’s borders, while other nations have changed their approach to living with the disease. This has kept the number of cases low, but has altered transportation, manufacturing and trade Beijing is easing travel restrictions, but most foreign visitors are still barred from entering the country.

Until August 7, if up to nine passengers on the same flight tested positive, the airline could suspend the flight for two weeks or reduce the number of passengers to 40% of the possible total, according to the Department of Transport. Since then, companies are required to suspend a flight if the number of positives reaches 4% of passengers, he added.

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