Cathay Pacific Pauses Flights from Manila

The carrier will resume passenger services on both legs of the Hong Kong–Manila route from March 29.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 aircraft over Hong Kong. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Hong Kong health authorities have slapped a temporary two-week ban on Cathay Pacific’s services from Manila after a handful of passengers on the same plane tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. According to a government statement, five travelers disembarking from Flight CX906 on March 13 were found to be infected on arrival, causing the concerned Airbus A350 aircraft to be sent for deep cleaning and triggering the Department of Health to halt all Cathay flights from the Philippine capital until March 28. This is the first such coronavirus-related suspension faced by the airline, excluding its now-defunct regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon, which faced a similar ban on its flights from Kuala Lumpur last September after five connecting passengers traveling from India tested positive.

While Cathay Pacific has had to cancel four scheduled services, one-way flights from Hong Kong to Manila remain unaffected. A 14-day quarantine requirement for air crews imposed by local officials last month has left Hong Kong’s struggling flag carrier no choice but to axe more than a dozen destinations from its already reduced flying schedule. That measure is intended to last until the end of this month, but it is not known when authorities plan to relax the stringent new rule.

In related news, Hong Kong’s government has just extended its months-long flight ban from the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Brazil; anyone who has spent at least two hours in any of those countries within 21 days of boarding their flights are banned from entering Hong Kong, regardless of residency or citizenship status. Cathay is still permitted to fly to London Heathrow, but air crews must stay on the plane for the quick hop to Amsterdam, where they will overnight before picking up Hong Kong–bound passengers.

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