Cathay Pacific suspends all Australian flights following HK ban

Hong Kong imposes a two-week ban on flights from Australia and seven other countries as it braces for a ‘fifth wave’ of Covid.

By David Flynn, January 6 2022
Cathay Pacific suspends all Australian flights following HK ban

Cathay Pacific has been forced to cancel all flights between Australia and Hong Kong from this Saturday, January 7 through to at least January 21, after Hong Kong imposed a 14-day ban on flights from eight countries.

The drastic move also blocks flights from the USA and the UK, Canada, France, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and is part of a dramatic tightening of rules as Hong Kong rushes to plug holes that have seen the highly infectious omicron Covid-19 variant break through the city’s defences and threaten its ‘Covid zero’ position.

“We’re yet to see a fifth wave yet, but we’re on the verge,” said Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who said a range of “fast, decisive and precise measures to cut the transmission chains” would help safeguard against forthcoming Lunar New Year celebrations and the long-awaited resumption of quarantine-free travel to mainland China.

The flight bans are a sharp escalation in travel curbs that have already left the city largely cut off from the world, while keeping it mostly virus-free for over seven months.

Cathay Pacific had already scrubbed all flights to Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide across January, while Sydney dropped to around two services per week, as operational and travel restrictions continue to affect its schedules.

After being approached by Executive Traveller, Cathay Pacific confirmed the sweeping cuts to its already pared-back flight schedule, saying the airline would  “operate at about 2% of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in January, following the latest aircrew quarantine measures imposed by the Hong Kong SAR Government in view of the rising Omicron cases around the world.”

Additional reporting by Bloomberg