Cathay Pacific to cut flights as Hong Kong COVID-19 rules bite

HONG KONG: Cathay Pacific on Thursday (Nov 25) said it will slash passenger flights into Hong Kong next month as the city’s strict travel curbs continue to keep international travellers away at a time when rivals are seeing their prospects improve.

Hong Kong has maintained some of the world’s harshest quarantine measures and travel restrictions during the pandemic, which has kept infections low but ensured a business hub that dubs itself “Asia’s World City” has been cut off internationally for the past 20 months.

The government has tied the city’s fortunes to China’s strict COVID-19 strategy and said normalisation of travel with the mainland must come before any reopening to the rest of the world.

On Thursday, Cathay announced it was “cancelling a number of flights to Hong Kong” for December blaming “operational and travel restrictions that remain in place”.

As the peak holiday season approaches, the airline will convert around one-third of flights bound for Hong Kong to handle cargo, the South China Morning Post reported citing company sources. Outbound flights would remain untouched for now, with about 620 scheduled in December, the paper added.

Like most international carriers, Cathay has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out much international travel.

But it is especially vulnerable because it has no domestic market to fall back on and is based in an international finance hub that has embraced mainland China’s “zero-COVID-19” plan.


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