Virgin Atlantic is hoping that a two-testing procedure for all crew flying to Hong Kong will be enough to avoid the Chinese territory’s health regulators from holding its pilots and cabin crew in a government-run quarantine camp.
British Airways momentarily halted flights to Hong Kong on Saturday as yet another crew member was transferred to the Penny’s Bay quarantine center.
On arrival, one crew member tested positive for COVID-19, prompting health officials to place the entire crew under quarantine as close contacts.
British Airways pilots and cabin workers have been ordered to the quarantine camp en masse for the second time in as many weeks.
Finnair crew members were detained in the camp in identical circumstances on Sunday, and Virgin Atlantic crew members were detained earlier this month.
The traditional quarantine period at the camp is 21 days, but embassies and airlines have usually been able to have crew members released after only seven days.
The Omicron variety, on the other hand, may harden Hong Kong officials’ attitudes and make them less reluctant to shorten the quarantine period.
To avoid being detained in a quarantine camp, a number of carriers, including Emirates and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, fly to Hong Kong through Bangkok, eliminating the need for crews to step off the plane in Hong Kong.
Despite the risk of personnel being forced into quarantine, Virgin Atlantic plans to continue operating non-stop flights from London to Hong Kong.
Crew members will now be tested twice before being allowed to board an aircraft to Hong Kong to lessen the danger. The first test will be done the day before the flights, and a second quick PCR test will be done right before takeoff.
Instead of the fail-safe but the more expensive technique of adding a technical stop in a third nation that does not quarantine crew members, British Airways may recommence flights to Hong Kong with a similar policy.
Virgin Atlantic and British Airways both claim that the health and safety of their crew members is a top priority.
Nearly 150 Cathay Pacific crew members were held at the Penny’s Bay camp earlier this month after staying at the same Frankfurt hotel as three pilots who later tested positive for COVID-19.
Cathay Pacific fired the pilots after they acknowledged lying to health inspectors about leaving their rooms and meeting up with locals during their layovers in Germany.
Cathay Pacific is currently experiencing a pilot and crew shortage as employees resign or refuse to volunteer for the difficult quarantine-inducing jobs.