China suspends two flights that came from Bangkok with COVID

File photo of an Airbus A330 operated by AirAsia X at Don Mueang International Airport. Photo: Alec Wilson / Flickr
File photo of an Airbus A330 operated by AirAsia X at Don Mueang International Airport. Photo: Alec Wilson / Flickr

A day after China’s aviation authority barred two flights from Thailand because arriving passengers tested positive for COVID-19, both operating airlines responded that none disembarked while in Bangkok.

Two Thai airlines responded to a temporary Chinese ban on two of their flights after arriving passengers tested positive for COVID-19 by saying none had disembarked while in Bangkok.

After the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s announced that 11 travelers aboard Thai Lion Air and Thai AirAsia X flights landed there with the virus, both airlines said they were connecting flights transited at Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport.

Both airlines stressed that no passengers deplaned there. Thai AirAsia X said its flight was routed through Thailand for refueling and to take advantage of its flight status with Beijing.

Attempts to reach Thai Lion Air were not successful by publication time.

According to Chinese state media, two flights will be barred for one week starting Monday: Thai Lion Air’s flight SL117 to Guangzhou and Thai AirAsia X’s flight XJ808 to Tianjin, both originating at Don Mueang. It said six passengers carrying the coronavirus landed July 7 aboard the Thai Lion Air flight, and five three days later via Thai AirAsia X.

Thai Lion Air told the media that its flight was a connection from Jakarta that transited at DMK before going on to Guangzhou. Most of the cabin crew were Chinese, it noted, and no Thai passengers were aboard, so it believes those with the disease were likely exposed to COVID-19 in Indonesia.

AirAsia X responded similarly, saying its flight, which originated in Manila, began in Kuala Lumpur and stopped in Bangkok on its way to Tienjin, China. It said that all passengers were tested for COVID-19 before boarding. It noted that no passengers deplaned or boarded in Thailand. 

China’s carrot-and-stick aviation policy reportedly calls for airlines operating COVID-free flights to expand their number of weekly inbound flights, while those who bring the ‘rona being suspended for a number of weeks depending on how many ill passengers are aboard.

Update July 17: This story has been updated with additional information from AirAsia X.

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