China plans to block the airspace north of Taiwan from April 16 to 18, according to four sources with knowledge of the situation, which could affect aircraft throughout the region.
The foreign ministries of China and Taiwan did not immediately reply to calls for comment.
Four officials outside China, speaking on the condition of anonymity owing to the delicacy of the situation, told Reuters that the block would disrupt Taiwan’s northern flight
information region (FIR) and that they were unaware of the cause for the restrictions.
It comes as China wraps up three days of military exercises surrounding self-ruled Taiwan in response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s recent meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, which enraged Beijing.
According to one senior official with firsthand knowledge of the situation, the flight embargo would affect 60-70 percent of flights between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as flights between Taiwan and South Korea, Japan, and North America.
Previous limits imposed during Chinese military maneuvers in August, according to OPSGROUP, an aviation industry cooperative that advises on flight hazards, led in substantial disruptions to flights in the region, with some pilots forced to carry additional fuel.