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