For Cathay Pacific, the hits keep on coming. New rules sharply limiting flights continue to severely cripple the beleaguered flag carrier of Hong Kong. Even as Cathay Pacific bears the brunt of the burden, strict rules adversely impact all carriers and effectively destroy Hong Kong’s once-proud status as a global aviation hub.
Hong Kong Cripples Cathy Pacific…With No End In Sight
In once bustling global hub of Chek Lap Kok International Airport (HKG), only one flight from outside Asia landing on Tuesday and one on Wednesday.
While flights can ostensibly operate from former key destinations in Australia, the United Kingdom, and United States, the city-states’ “zero COVID” policy punishes airlines when passengers onboard later test positive for COVID-19.
If three or more passengers test positive for COVID-19 or have insufficient health documentation on an incoming flight, the route is suspended for seven days. Since the virus takes several days to manifest itself in some, repeated negative tests are not a guarantee of being infection-free.
But the stringent rule has impacted:
- Air India
- All Nippon Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Ethiopian Airlines
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
11 markets, including Amsterdam, Doha, London, and Singapore are currently off-limits. Over the last month 21 routes have faced suspension.
Think about it. A full 777-300ER from Amsterdam to Hong Kong. The flight is catered. Crew is staffed. Luggage is checked. 300 passengers board. All of a sudden a call comes from authorities in Hong Kong that the flight will not be allowed to land in Hong Kong because three passengers had tested positive for COVID-19 on a flight days earlier.
It is no wonder service to Hong Kong is so limited right now…how can an airline possibly plan for such unpredictably? The expense is immense.
And of course this policy hits local carrier Cathay Pacific hardest of all. Its once-robust network around the world is a sliver of its former self and there is no relief in sight.
Business schools will one day study the sad case of Cathay Pacific and the even sadder case of Hong Kong. A former hub of commerce and trade has been disabled by stringent polices which only exacerbate the sort of economic destruction which the city may never recover from. It’s a tragic day for Cathay Pacific. It’s a tragic day for global aviation in Hong Kong.
image: Cathay Pacific
And you thought our CDC covid theater was bad…
Interesting you chose to write about Hong Kong. I currently live in Hong Kong and to echo your words, the city (i accidentally type shitty hah) is a shell of its former self. We used to have such close ties with London that we had 4 flights daily from CX , 2 daily from BA (including one on a A380 meaning capacity was no issue), 1 a day from Virgin Atlantic and a plethora of ways to get to Europe in general including KL, AF , AY, LX, LH (both Munich and Frankfurt), OS, QR, EK, EY, SK ,TK to name a few.
As of today, we’re basically left with CX 10 times a month (already up from previously 4 times a month , Lufthansa twice a week, the odd Finnair and Qatar flight. There is also a mass exodus brewing with families and the younger generation leaving the region due to distaste for the current government administration. I will leave politics out of this , but statistics have shown that 75000-90000 people have left Hong Kong permanently in the month of February alone.
There are mask mandates everywhere- whether indoor or outdoor. The police actively seek out people not wearing masks or not wearing them properly and slap them them with a HKD$5000 Fine ( ~700USD). Before April 21 (today) dine-in at restaurants was banned after 6pm (as if the virus goes to bed at 6). Group gatherings were limited to 2 people and all gyms, swimming pools, beaches, bars, nail salons/ beauty parlours, movie theatres stayed SHUT for about two months straight. Todays news was of people playing full court basketball and finally being able to go back to gyms- with masks on.
At one point, the government even banned hair salons from opening for about a month until they realised that people needed haircuts and then all of a sudden they were deemed as “necessary venues”.
Schools have remained shut until today and students need to conduct a RAT test to ensure they are covid free every day they attend school. This is the current Hong Kong- with a government that is obsessed with maintaining a zero covid policy.
Cathay are pretty much dead in the water and what was once a very above carrier, will soon be relegated to being an irrelevant carrier soon. Hong Kong was once pretty awesome to be honest- especially if you were a tourist and here for a few days. Take a look now, and you’ll see it is but a mere shell of its former self. The skyscrapers and infrastructure remain, there are still people here but its soul has unfortunately faded into the past.
Unique insight, Thanks Ed.
What is Disneyland looking like now?
Disneyland was open just two days ago. They were shut for about 3+ months straight because the government freaked out over omicron. News footage just showed kids rushing into the entrance of Disneyland.
As for what its like, I would assume its busy. But masks must be on at all times, and I would imagine they are trying to make it as normal as possible. Its a different kind of fun though when you have a mask on at all times and its 30 (85 Farenheit or so) degrees outside.
And only open to 50% capacity, am I right?
Being a former CX USA based employee am distraught watching the airline dissolve into a fraction of its’ former self. Gone are the gambits of coming over to HKG for training, picking up a suit or two, delve into wonderful Asian Cuisine, and soaking in all the ambience that HKG has to offer. My heart breaks for all the former friends/employees who worked for CX who are now scouring for their existence in an environment less partial to big business and more towards government. Fear the excitement will never return while the competition will thrive and feed off the carcass off a once very proud carrier in the business.
Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific will build back better.
Childish and unworthy on an important topic. What’s next, lighthearted Ukraine death toll jokes?
You think the damage inflicted in Ukraine and Hong Kong is remotely comparable? It’s basically the difference between punching someone else in the face and punching yourself in the face.
I think that stupid jokes in poor taste are ill-considered regardless. If the commenter wanted to make some puerile joke about Biden, the CDC mask situation offered plenty of fodder as well as a fairly valid stage to make the comment.
As to your analogy of punching yourself, I disagree. I don’t think that the people of Hong Kong chose to have this horrible situation. Implying that it’s self-inflicted is wrong IMO. If you’re saying that the Ukraine situation is of another order of magnitude, you’re right. My point was that if “Joe Biden” was willing to make stupid jokes about one disaster then moving on to a bigger one was not unrealistic.
Sadly what a tasteless posting…This ongoing issue in Hong Kong is indeed sad and you turn it into your own version of comedy and politics ..I was there many times over the year and it is nothing like it was before, sadly due to a treaty that was about to expire..
@JoeBiteMe–No, it will not. I had Hong Kong as my #1 place to visit and it is not now, nor will it ever be even on my radar.
So sad to read this about cathay and Hong Kong… My brother lives there for a while, and it still remains my favourite city in the world… I wish those remaining best of luck, and a swift return of fortunes for cathay
My elderly ailing mother still lives in Hong Kong with my sister and I have not been able to see them since December 2019. I was supposed to fly F on CX last November to HKG but I just could not go with the 21-day quarantine restrictions, I didn’t even have 21 days in my travel plan. The government has caused all of this turmoil to CX and the city on a whole. Instead of focusing on getting people vaccinated they stupidly think that they could keep COVID out and we all see how that turned out. Until they adapt to living with COVID I just don’t see how things will improve and they will continue to shut the world out. The incoming replacement of Carrie Lam is handpicked by Beijing and for sure he’s not going to go against China’s zero-COVID strategy. Very, very sad state of affairs.
Granted, the Chinese central government has imposed on HK all of the same restrictions it has on the rest of the country, but one cannot but wonder if this isn’t part of a concerted effort to de-Westernize HK s a policy of state, and, as such, cripple then ultimately eliminate (or dramatically reduce the reach of) Cathay Pacific to enhance the three large “mainland” carriers: Air China, China Southern, China Eastern. COVID is the (convenient) tool by which the PRC strangles HK and its outward-leaning businesses and shining successes.
Yes, and more specifically the current paranoid leadership in Bejing.
UK’s handover of Hong Kong to China was a very sad moment in history. 6 one of my favorite cities in the world.
This is what happens when the People’s Republic of China takes over. Hard to recognize HK anymore after many years of visiting. SAD!!
Well, the HK government continues to make really dumb policies. They’ve announced instead of a SEVEN day suspension they’re reducing it to FIVE days and if that would really make any difference. Airlines are not flying because of it.
Any suspension is stupid. No other place in the world has such policies. The HK government has lost its marbles.
The real problem is the Hong Kong rat hole living conditions . People crammed together living in bedrooms the size of coffins . For this reason any virus can spread so easily . Until China begins to better organize proper living conditions for residents , ie : bulldozing these rat hole apt. buildings , nothing will ever change.
You gonna love the irony that the whole Omicron wave stormed Hong Kong, and then China – Shanghai and way beyond, is caused by one Cathay FA who broke quarantine requirement.
Even as HK has basically reached herd immunity and best way to move forward is end all the quarantine, central government still choke HK for at least 7 days quarantine, as if that can save central gov’s face.
Sad times for my former employee back in the great 80/90’s when CX was up there with SQ. I hope they survive but realistically I can’t see it in these troubling times of our 21st century!
I was lucky to have flown on Cathay Pacific on 4 flights, the latest being in 2019. Will remember the great airline they used to be. I really appreciated that the flight attendant did not read a whole chapter of War and Peace, in two languages after takeoff, as that seems to be the normal procedure for North American airlines flight attendant announcements. I believe that a majority of the passengers “tune out” the superfluous messages that never seem to stop on an American carrier.
But they are still hanging on, and I will go out of my way to fly with Cathay again, hopefully soon.