As Hong Kong is pursuing a ‘COVID-zero’ strategy in a push to reopen its border with mainland China, one of Asia’s largest airlines and Hong Kong’s home carrier, Cathay Pacific has been eager to assist the city authorities with this move.
Cathay Pacific asked its cabin crews and pilots to volunteer for a ‘closed-loop’ system in December. This involved working for three weeks in a row, staying in Hong Kong only briefly, before a two-week quarantine on their return.
However, the company appears to have had too few volunteers to operate this schedule as many want to be home for Christmas.
Due to the crews’ snub, Cathay Pacific was forced to convert about one-third of its flights to freight instead of passenger transportation.
“The operational and travel restrictions that remain in place continue to constrain our ability to operate flights as planned. We are consolidating our passenger flight schedule for December 2021, including canceling a number of flights to Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific said.
The airline will arrange alternative bookings on remaining passenger flights to accommodate clients whose flights were canceled.
Despite Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regulations, COVID-19 cases keep reappearing, with three Cathay Pacific cargo pilots recently testing positive after arriving from Frankfurt.
Two cases of the new southern African COVID-19 variant, which has already caused several EU states to reintroduce travel restrictions, have also been found in travelers under quarantine, Hong Kong’s Department of Health announced on Friday.