Cathay Pacific cancels some year-end flights due seasonal illness

A Cathay Pacific flight approaches to land at Kansai Airport in Osaka, Japan.
lasta29, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cathay Pacific has moved to cancel some year-end flights as a precautionary measure after seasonal illness depleted its flight crew ranks.

Staffing numbers for the airline have already diminished in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Unforeseen Pilot Shortage

Cathay Pacific addressed the issue in a statement, acknowledging a “small number” of affected flights due to a higher-than-anticipated pilot absence caused by seasonal illnesses.

This unexpected turn of events has led to the cancellation of approximately 11% of its Hong Kong departures on Friday, affecting key routes such as Sydney, Delhi, Taipei, Shanghai, and Singapore.

According to data from, Cathay Pacific is set to axe 14 passenger flights, reflecting the challenges faced by the airline in managing its operational schedule.


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While these cancellations represent a mere fraction—less than 1%—of all passenger flights since mid-December, they underscore the broader impact of external factors on the aviation industry.

Beyond Illness: Annual Flying Limits

Apart from seasonal illnesses, some Cathay Pacific pilots are reaching their annual flying limits, compounding the challenges faced by the airline.

Pilots operating Airbus SE A350s for Cathay are subject to a maximum annual flying limit of 900 hours. This restriction aims to prevent unsafe conditions, such as pilot fatigue, which could compromise the safety of passengers and crew.

The Ripple Effect on Passenger Traffic

Understanding the context of these challenges requires a broader view of the aviation landscape in Hong Kong.

Despite the setbacks, the Hong Kong airport reported a passenger traffic recovery of more than 80% since mid-December, signaling a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels.

During the Christmas holiday travel peak, the city’s airport handled a significant daily influx of over 160,000 passengers on both December 22 and 23.

For passengers planning to travel with Cathay Pacific during this period, it’s essential to stay informed about potential disruptions and changes to flight schedules.

Proactive communication from the airline will be crucial in ensuring passengers are updated in real-time, allowing them to adjust their travel plans accordingly.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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