Cathay Pacific will suspend flights to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth from February 20 until at least the beginning of March, after the Hong Kong government imposed strict new quarantine rules on airline crew.
Only the airline's five weekly flights between Hong Kong and Sydney will remain in place, according to the Oneworld member's latest schedule update.
But it's not just those three Australian cities in the firing line: Cathay will also halt flights to Frankfurt, Tel Aviv, San Francisco, Vancouver, Cebu, Saigon, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.
"In view of the Hong Kong SAR Government’s latest announcement, with effect from 20 February 2021 our Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew are required to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine plus 7 days of medical surveillance when they return to Hong Kong after being on duty," the airline confirmed."
"The new measure will have a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets," noted Cathay Pacific Chief Operating Officer Ronald Lam.
In response, a government spokesperson said it was calling on "the (airline) industry to join our concerted efforts to fight the virus."
The tough quarantine requirements will have a dramatic knock-on effect on those crew being rostered onto any other Cathay Pacific flight, with estimates that cabin attendants and pilots will able to operate only one long-range flight per month.
Cathay's truncated timetable covers to the end of February but could be extended, with the airline saying "we are actively managing our crew resources to plan for our flight services for March 2021." Further updates are expected by February 22.
As previously reported, Cathay Pacific still hopes to return to Australia in strength by the end of this year and replace its older Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s with an all-Airbus A350 fleet which will let travellers enjoy the Oneworld member's latest business and premium economy seats.