Due to tight pandemic limitations enforced by the Hong Kong authorities, Cathay Pacific is canceling the majority of its January schedule to Australia.
Flights to Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth will be canceled entirely, and twice-daily service to Sydney will be reduced to just two weekly flights.
Because of its historically low Coronavirus infection rates, Australia was a reasonably safe place for Cathay Pacific to fly to.
However, now that Australia has abandoned its zero-COVID approach due to high vaccination rates, Hong Kong health officials no longer consider it a “safe” country.
As a result, Australia has been classed as a Group A country, requiring returning citizens and aircrew to undergo a 21-day quarantine period.
Pilots and cabin crew volunteer to work a ‘closed loop’ method to avoid quarantine laws, but Cathay Pacific has failed to find enough volunteers to meet its planned schedule in recent weeks.
“In light of the ongoing operational and travel restrictions that continue to affect our flight schedules, we are currently in the process of reviewing the number of passenger flights to and from Hong Kong in January 2022,” Cathay Pacific confirmed in a notice posted on its website.
“The new consolidated schedule will result in several flight cancellations,” the statement continued. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to your travel plans, especially during the festive season.”
Aircrews on the ‘Closed Loop’ system work a three-week schedule and isolate in closed hotel rooms between flights.
They are not permitted to leave their rooms and may only exit to go to work. They must then quarantine in a hotel room for 21 days after completing the three-week roster.
Cathay Pacific only carried 70,000 passengers in November, less than 3% of the volume it carried pre-pandemic in November 2019.
The Hong Kong administration is committed to a zero-COVID approach, and policy decisions are made with the mainland China border in mind.
Last week, Qatar Airways’ CEO slammed Hong Kong’s policy, claiming that it was “killing” Cathay Pacific.