Hong Kong airline suspends cargo flights amid COVID-19 protocols, warns of supply chain issue
Hong Kong’s flagship Cathay Pacific airline said on Friday that new quarantine guidelines may lead to further supply chain disruptions as the city keeps to its “zero Covid” strategy.
The Hong Kong government told airlines this week that all crews working non-mainland China passenger flights would lose their quarantine exemptions. Beginning on Saturday, cargo air crews based in Hong Kong will need to quarantine for seven days upon returning to the city, up from the prior three-day requirement.
“We are wary that any further tightening of aircrew quarantine arrangements would lead to reductions in flight frequencies to protect the well-being of our crew members and the overall safety of our operations,” Cathay Pacific’s head of corporate affairs, said in a statement to CNN.
Wong warned that this new policy would cause “dramatic disruptions to supply chains in the short-term” and threaten Hong Kong International Airport’s status as a “leading cargo hub.”
All non-mainland flights going in and out of Hong Kong must also be operated by closed-loop aircrew who are required to spend two weeks in quarantine. The South China Morning Post noted that many crews will be operating for three weeks and then have to quarantine for two weeks before going home. This measure has also caused concerns for the mental health of crew members.
The Post noted that Cathay Pacific has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, experiencing losses of $3.75 billion in the past two years and losing thousands of staff members.
Cathay Pacific said on Thursday that due to tightened quarantine rules, an unspecified number of passenger flights would be canceled. Long haul cargo flights going into Hong Kong will also be suspended for a week, the company said.
Speaking to CNN, the Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau said it has been “closely communicating with the aviation industry with a view to maintaining smooth air cargo services into and out of Hong Kong and addressing the basic daily needs of society, while safeguarding public health.”
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