Cathay Pacific crew arrested in Hong Kong for COVID-19 violations

Cathay Pacific crew arrested in Hong Kong for COVID-19 violations
Cathay Pacific crew arrested in Hong Kong for COVID-19 violations

Two former airline crew members have been arrested and charged in Hong Kong for allegedly violating the city’s anti-COVID-19 restrictions.

According to a statement issued by the Hong Kong police, two flight attendants had returned to Hong Kong from the United States on December 24 and 25 and had “conducted unnecessary activities” during their home isolation period.

The statement did not identify the air carrier, but the HK police announcement comes right after Cathay Pacific reported earlier this month that it had fired two air crew who were suspected of breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Both detained air crew members tested positive for the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. If convicted, they could face up to six months in Hong Kong prison and a fine of up to HK$5,000 ($642).

Cathay Pacific has been blamed for the initial spread of Omicron into the Hong Kong community, with the current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, singling out the flagship air carrier and launching two investigations into the .

Cathay Pacific Chairman Patrick Healy said the airline was cooperating with Hong Kong government on the probes, which focus on non-compliance with coronavirus rules and rostering of crew onto cargo flights.

Hong Kong has continually changed its quarantine rules for air crew, dramatically tightening them after the Omicron outbreak in late December, forcing Cathay Pacific to cancel most of its planned passenger and cargo flights in January.

Cathay Pacific had been struggling to crew many flights even before the COVID-19 restrictions were tightened, as some destinations relied on pilots volunteering to fly grueling rosters involving being locked in rooms for up to five weeks.

Healy said that the airline’s crew had spent more than 62,000 nights in Hong Kong’s quarantine hotels in 2021, with none contracting COVID-19 for the first eight months of the year. All crew are fully vaccinated.

Hong Kong is following mainland China’s “zero-tolerance” approach to control COVID-19 as the rest of the world shifts towards living with the coronavirus.

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