Asian airlines have canceled or rerouted their flights to avoid Taiwan’s airspace as China continues to conduct live-fire drills around Taiwan in a diplomatic tit-for-tat move against the United States.
Malaysia Airlines Bhd said on Friday that it would cancel flights to and from Taipei on Saturday, and reroute its flights to Japan and South Korea to avoid the airspace affected by Chinese military drills.
“The reroute will incur additional flight time on particular sectors,” the airline told local news outlet The Edge, adding that it would continue to “avoid any restricted area” listed in the Notice of Air Missions (NOTAMS).
Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways International (THAI) have also canceled flights to Taipei to avoid China’s military drills. THAI said it rerouted flights to Japan and South Korea by flying over the Philippines airspace.
The Civil Authority of Vietnam said that 118 flights operated by Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air were delayed or rerouted due to the military drills, but their flights to Taiwan remain operational, according to local reports.
Japanese carriers continue to operate flights to Taipei but avoid the affected airspace on those flights, as well as on routes to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways and Philippines Airlines have also followed suit.
China Warns Airlines
China reportedly warned Asian airlines on Tuesday to avoid flying in areas designated as “danger zones,” following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which has angered the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In response, Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport announced that it would cancel 51 international arrival and departure flights scheduled for Thursday.
Chinese military began live-fire drills in the seas surrounding Taiwan on Thursday, in what were the largest military drills ever conducted by the Chinese across the Taiwan Strait. They have included joint naval, air, and missile forces, operating in six areas surrounding Taiwan.
Taiwan lawmaker Wang Ting-yu said that such maneuvers would constitute an invasion of Taiwan’s territorial waters if Chinese forces were to travel the full breadth of the exercise areas.
“If they send in their fighters or their warships to enter our territorial sea, that means China invaded our territory and we will have our standard operation procedure to respond to that,” Wang told Axios.
“We don’t want to provoke any conflict here, but whoever dares to invade our country, our home, we have our obligation to defend our home.”
Andrew Thornebrooke and Reuters contributed to this report.