Hong Kong Bans Flights on Five More Airline Routes

Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, and Air Canada are among the carriers penalized by local health authorities.

Photo: Cheung Yin/Unsplash

Hong Kong’s future as an international aviation hub is being cast into doubt as an unprecedented number of regional and global airlines have been given two-week bans on incoming flights. Last night, the government announced that five carriers were sanctioned as they had each brought in at least three Covid-infected passengers on January 2. The affected operations include Cathay Pacific’s weekly service from Seoul, Air India flights from Delhi, Air Canada’s services from Vancouver, Thai Airways flights from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, and Philippines AirAsia’s Manila to Hong Kong service. This means that Cathay Pacific is now the sole carrier operating flights from Manila, as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have also been forced to halt operations on the route until the 12th and 13th, respectively.

But with a total of six suspended routes, the most badly affected airline overall is Hong Kong’s own flag carrier Cathay Pacific, which is already running a skeleton schedule this month due to tightened quarantine restrictions for air crew. Reports have emerged that Cathay Pacific flights from New York JFK are set to be banned once more; the ultra-long-haul service only resumed on Monday (January 3) after a two-week suspension. Five passengers who disembarked from Air Canada Flight 015 from Toronto on the same day are said to have tested positive, and further details will likely be released later this afternoon when Hong Kong reports its daily count of new coronavirus cases.

Hong Kong authorities have drawn criticism for their no-tolerance policy that penalizes airlines for circumstances beyond their control. Incoming travelers are already required to present a negative result from a PCR test conducted within 48 hours of departure, but it is entirely possible to be infected with the virus (and develop symptoms) in the time between testing and the flight.

 

As of January 5, no less than 17 airline routes have been suspended by the Hong Kong government:

Airline Flight No. Origin Banned through…
Emirates EK 384 Dubai via Bangkok Jan. 7
Cathay Pacific CX 252 London Heathrow Jan. 8
Korean Air KE 607 Seoul Incheon Jan. 8
Cathay Pacific CX 881 Los Angeles Jan. 11
CX 829 Toronto Jan. 11
Cebu Pacific 5J 272 Manila Jan. 12
Finnair AY 101 Helsinki Jan. 12
Turkish Airlines TK 083 Istanbul Jan. 12
Cathay Pacific CX 873 San Francisco Jan. 13
Philippine Airlines PR 300 Manila Jan. 13
KLM KL 819 Amsterdam Jan. 15
Cathay Pacific CX 216 Manchester Jan. 15
CX 419 Seoul Incheon Jan. 17
Air India AI 314 Delhi Jan. 17
Air Canada AC 007 Vancouver Jan. 17
Thai Airways TG 600 Bangkok Jan. 17
Philippines AirAsia Z2 1264 Manila Jan. 17
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