Cathay Pacific warns of capacity cuts if it’s landed with quarantine rules  

Hong Kong's flagship carrier says strict new containment rules for its flight crews to help curb the spread of Covid-19 in the territory will force it to slash seat numbers and hit it hard in the pocket 

by Jamie Freed
Cathay Pacific warns of capacity cuts if it’s landed with quarantine rules  
Hong Kong is poised to demand flight crews entering the Asian financial hub for more than two hours need to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.

Cathay Pacific Airways has warned its passenger capacity could be cut by about 60% and its monthly cash burn rise if Hong Kong installs new measures that require flight crew to quarantine for two weeks.

Hong Kong's flagship carrier said the expected move will increase cash burn by about HK$300 million ($38.70 million) to HK$400 million per month, on top of current HK$1 billion to HK$1.5 billion levels.

Hong Kong is set to require flight crew entering the Asian financial hub for more than two hours to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, the South China Morning Post reported last week.

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"The new measure will have a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets," Cathay said in a statement, adding that expected curbs will also reduce its cargo capacity by 25%.

The airline, in an internal memo, requested for volunteers among its crew who could fly for three weeks, followed by two weeks of quarantine and 14 days free of duty, adding it will be a temporary measure and not all its flight will require such an operation.

"We continue to engage with key stakeholders in the Hong Kong Government," the memo said.

EVOLVING PANDEMIC

A Hong Kong government spokesperson said: "In the light of the evolving pandemic situation locally and internationally, the Government will keep reviewing and refining the arrangements applicable to different categories of exempted persons, including air crew, with reference to all relevant considerations." 

Separately, a company spokeswoman said the airline could not detail the impact on vaccine transport specifically in terms of cargo shipments.

The aviation industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic as many countries impose travel restrictions to contain its spread. 

In December, Cathay's passenger numbers fell by 98.7% compared to a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 32.3%.

  • Reuters

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