Cathay adds flights after circuit-breaker rule eased | The Standard

2022-04-02 07:28:46 By : Ms. Cherry W

Cathay Pacific has added flights from London, Sydney, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong after SAR authorities relaxed a system that suspends flights if Covid cases are landed, cutting the ban to seven days instead of 14.

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier welcomed the easing decision yesterday and set about arranging more flights to cater for a greater demand.

Authorities also announced that 13 isolation hotels will become quarantine hotels for overseas arrivals, providing an additional 4,400 rooms.

Under the current rule, an airline has to suspend flights of a specific route for two weeks if three passengers test positive for Covid on arrival at Hong Kong International Airport.

Starting from Friday, the suspension period will be halved to seven days, authorities announced around midnight yesterday.

After the change, the one-week suspension on an airline’s flight from the same destination will be triggered when a plane carries three or more passengers who test positive on arrival or if one passenger tests positive and another has failed to comply with health requirements specified under health regulations that require someone to be fully vaccinated and booking a hotel for at least seven days.

That means a current rule on four infected passengers landing in seven days triggering a ban has been cancelled.

Cathay confirmed almost immediately: “We are now reviewing our April and May flying schedules.

“We have added additional flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, London Heathrow and Sydney to our April schedule.”

Cathay’s new flights are scheduled on April 4 from Kuala Lumpur, April 10 from London, April 15 from Bangkok and April 20 from Sydney.

As of 8pm last night seat on all four flights were available, with the cheapest tickets selling at M$1,203 (HK$2,237), pounds 653 (HK$6,744), baht 9,365 (HK$2,182) and A$1,202 (HK$7,073).

The revisions came after the business sector voiced concerns that flight suspensions have affected Hong Kong’s competitiveness as an international financial center.

Foreign companies were also said to be considering moves out of the SAR due to the harsh Covid policies and quarantine requirements.

For example, senior managers of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and JPMorgan Chase have stayed outside Hong Kong for months.

Even after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last Monday announced lifting the flight bans on Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States from April 1 Cathay said it would only arrange one flight per route every two weeks, worrying about forced cancellation of flights and impacts on traveler itineraries if suspensions kicked in.

Explaining the changes in the rules, Lam said the action was taken in view of latest developments in the pandemic and understanding difficulties faced by Hongkongers stranded overseas.

But it was still necessary to maintain a route-specific flight suspension mechanism, she added.

Among those who arrived in Hong Kong in February, 0.76 percent tested positive for the coronavirus, and Lam expects more arrivals will test positive with the lifting of the flight ban, though she said the SAR would be able to cope with it.

But Lam said authorities could not listen to every demand made by airlines, adding that different companies have to play their part during the pandemic.

With the flight ban lifted, fully vaccinated Hongkongers will be able to return to Hong Kong from the nine countries.

And if they test negative during their stay in a designated quarantine hotel they will be allowed to leave after a week instead of 14 days.

After assessing the usage of community isolation facilities catering to mild-case Covid patients, authorities also decided to return 13 hotels, including the Dorsett Mongkok and the Regal Oriental Hotel in Kowloon City, to quarantine of arrivals.

These hotels will take returnees from Friday and will start to accept room bookings gradually.

In total, 38 hotels provide over 10,000 rooms for Hong Kong residents returning from overseas.

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