Air transport: Hong Kong's drastic health regulations “kill” Cathay Pacific

The CEO of Qatar Airways (3rd shareholder of Cathay) has protested against a border control rule which temporarily bans airlines that have brought in infected passengers.

Hong Kong’s strict adherence to the “zero covid” strategy paralyzes the city’s aviation industry and “kills” Cathay Pacific, a major shareholder in the local airline told local media.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has spoken out against a border control rule that temporarily bans airlines that have brought in infected passengers.

“You cannot shut down the aviation sector because someone was infected when they got on the plane from someone else, “he told the South China Morning Post.

Flight bans

Mr. Al Baker added that he was “a little disappointed” that Hong Kong had remained closed, and that he had expected a large part of Cathay’s fleet to resume flights.

Qatar Airways is the third largest shareholder of Cathay, with a 9.6% stake purchased for 5, 16 billion Hong Kong dollars ( 661 millions of dollars) in 2017.

Following the example of Beijing, Hong Kong has maintained some of the world’s strictest quarantine measures and travel restrictions, which has kept the city coronavirus-free but internationally isolated.

Under Hong Kong rules, if an airline brings too many infected passengers to a given route, it is banned from flying on that route for two weeks.

Wave of Resignations

These rules have been tightened by fear of the Omicron variant, which the city has registered juice case that now.

Earlier this month, AFP reported that Cathay was hit by a wave of pilot resignations, with employees citing exhaustion and growing resentment.

Some Cathay flights operate on a “closed loop” system that requires pilots to spend weeks shuttling between the bubbles on the plane and those in the hotel to avoid triggering quarantine upon their return.

Global delivery giant FedEx said last month it would move its pilots overseas and shut down its base in Hong Kong , invoking the city’s anti-covid policies.