LONDON – Cathay Pacific has announced that it will increase its flights during the coming months as the Hong Kong government is relaxing the quarantine rules in favour of providing a negative PCR test upon arrival.
New COVID Rules
Under previous rules set by the government, the staff had to quarantine for 3 days after an international flight. This rule was a very big headache for Cathay, as it required to adapt its crew schedules to be adapted to this rule, which meant that the pilots could be used less often than other airlines that don’t have to quarantine their crew members.
The crew will have to present a negative PCR test upon arrival at the airport. However, this won’t be enough for them, as they would still have to regularly get tested and be monitored in the community according to the Hong Kong government.
Now that this rule has been lifted, the airline can slowly start to ramp up its capacity. They would have preferred to do it faster, but since they have to reactivate stored airframes and retrain crew members, it is going slower than they had hoped.
It has also been estimated by Airways Magazine that they would need an additional 4000 staff members as it is building its flying program over the coming months.
Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang said in a statement that he welcomed these announcements. “These changes allow us to add back more flights, to build momentum, and to continue our recovery,” he added.
Not the only one
Although Cathay was hit the hardest of every airline that flies to Hong Kong, they weren’t the only airline affected by the regulations. Air China, HK Express, and Hong Kong Airlines had to reduce their flights to and from Hong Kong as well.
Virgin Atlantic and British Airways had cancelled their services to Hong Kong altogether
In a statement given by the government, they said that the easing restrictions “will effectively facilitate airlines to enhance flight services between Hong Kong and other parts of the world, and enable Hong Kong to play its role as an international aviation hub.”
It is expected that many airlines flying to Hong Kong will rethink their decisions and observe closely the current situation in Hong Kong, knowing that the current political climate there is very unstable.
Hong Kong used to be a very important airport, but since the pandemic, and because of the current government having a huge say, Hong Kong is losing that position as it has become a place of high risk.
Recently, Qantas has announced that they will postpone their flights to Hong Kong back to the end of January of 2023 because of the late ease of restrictions compared to their plans of restarting flights in November of this year.
It is however great to see that airlines are putting their trust in the region and in the future that everything will be better and a more exciting, COVID-free, future compared to the bleak 2 years of COVID that we’ve had.