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