Cathay Pacific says strict new quarantine rules could cause ‘dramatic’ supply chain disruptions in Hong Kong

The notice of Cathay Pacific’s warning came as the Hong Kong government announced that, from Saturday, all air cargo crew stationed in the city who have stayed abroad will need to spend seven days in hotel quarantine upon their return. This is higher than the current three-day requirement.

The measure marks an escalation of some of the strictest and most isolated restrictions in the world, as Hong Kong tries to eradicate any trace of the coronavirus. The city, along with China, is one of the last places in Asia to still adopt a “zero Covid” strategy. Most people arriving in the city are forced to quarantine in a hotel for up to three weeks upon arrival, even if they have been vaccinated.

“We are concerned that any further tightening of quarantine arrangements for cabin crew will lead to reductions in flight frequencies to protect the well-being of our crew members and the general safety of our operations,” said Andy Wong, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of corporate affairs. , in the current situation.

He added that such measures would lead to “dramatic disruptions to supply chains in the short term” and undermine Hong Kong International Airport as a “leading cargo hub”.

Strict quarantine rules have already affected the pilots of the carrier.

Like employees on many airlines, all Cathay flight crew are fully vaccinated. But Cathay pilots told CNN Business weeks ago that the company had adopted strict policies for travelers to countries classified as “high risk”, such as the United States, India and the United Kingdom. Flyers heading to those places usually fly for several weeks and still have to quarantine in hotels again in Hong Kong.

“Low risk” and freight flights have been more lenient in the past, but Friday’s announcement indicates the city sees a need for tightening as the threat of the Omicron coronavirus increases. Hong Kong just reported its first two domestic cases of the type, which health authorities said on Thursday were likely linked to a Cathay crew member.

In recent days, there have already been signs that Hong Kong is looking to crack down more than it already is.

Cathay Pacific said Thursday it would cancel an unspecified number of passenger flights due to “tightening” of rules. She added that city restrictions continued to “restrict our ability to operate flights as planned.”

The company said in that statement that the flights will be canceled immediately, effective until “the first quarter of 2022 tentatively,” adding that it intends to “operate a structured passenger flight schedule in January.”

In another statement Friday, Cathy said it was suspending long-distance freight flights to the city for a week, adding that it would “work with customers to mitigate disruption as much as possible.”

The Hong Kong Office of Transportation and Housing told CNN Business that it “has been in close contact with the aviation industry with the goal of maintaining smooth air freight services to and from Hong Kong and addressing the basic daily needs of the community, while maintaining public health.”

Hong Kong’s strict rules have led to significant disruption for airlines, as any commercial airline arriving in the city with passengers infected with the Covid virus, or not complying with containment measures, could be temporarily banned from operating passenger flights.

The Hong Kong government suspended some international lines in the city from major airlines including Qatar, Emirates, Korean Air, Turkish Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and Finnair. Certain passenger flights from cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Dubai, Manila and other places have also been banned in recent days after passengers on those flights tested positive for the virus.

The Hong Kong government said it would review the temporary ban on airlines in early January.

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