Cathay Pacific to Suspend 13 Key Routes

The airline is drastically reducing its flying schedule due to Hong Kong’s new quarantine rule for air crews.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 aircraft. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Despite protests from the battered aviation sector, and warnings from industry experts that it would amount to a “death blow” for struggling local airlines, authorities in Hong Kong are forging ahead with new 14-day quarantine requirement for all locally based pilots and cabin crew, due to come into effect this weekend. In response, Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific has said that it will have to axe a slew of long-haul routes from February 20.

Within Asia, the airline is temporarily suspending flights to Cebu, Ho Chi Minh City, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, and Seoul. One return service will operate to Cebu and Kaohsiung on February 26 and 27 respectively.

Australians stranded abroad will soon have even fewer options for getting home, as Cathay is also halting its services to Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth at least until March. Other key destinations on the chopping block include Auckland, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Vancouver. One flight is scheduled to depart Hong Kong for Tel Aviv on February 23, but it is not known how this will go ahead, since Israel has banned all incoming passenger flights to keep out new coronavirus variants as it vaccinates its general population.

Because of the government’s new quarantine rules, Cathay Pacific will serve a total of just 16 destinations. In Southeast Asia, these include Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Singapore, and Surabaya. Five of those destinations are in East Asia, namely Beijing, Osaka, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo Narita.

Services to and from Europe are limited to one-way flights to London Heathrow returning via Amsterdam, where the carrier is allowed to pick up passengers. Over in North America, Cathay will continue serving Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York.

The airline has just released its traffic figures for January, when it carried just 30,410 passengers throughout the entire month, representing a 99-percent reduction compared to the same period last year. The passenger load factor fell by 71.4 percentage points to just 13.3 percent, the lowest on record, and Cathay carried an average of just 981 passengers per day, the first time that number fell below 1,000 since June 2020.

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