Cathay Pacific suspends most flights to Australia

Tough new quarantine rules for airline crew will see Cathay Pacific halt a slew of global routes.

By David Flynn, February 11 2021
Cathay Pacific suspends most flights to Australia

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.

Also read: Here are Cathay Pacific's bold new first class concepts

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

17 Nov 2011

Total posts 26

Wonder what the local authorities are thinking – surely Australia/NZ don't have the same risk as places like the US, UK or South Africa?!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 26

I know I will get criticism for my post here.... I flew Cathay and was in Hong Kong in late Feb 2020. I knew then that it would likely be my last visit. With China exercising control outside the 1997 Sino-British joint declaration (stripping away freedom) and with all the anti Australian PRC rhetoric, I no longer feel safe to travel to or via any territory controlled by the PRC.  I wonder if I am alone, or if this will be a view shared by others.

I don't think anybody would or should criticise you for sharing a considered and informed view instead of a rant, and adding a personal perspective. I'm from HKG and I spent a lot of time flying around Asia including to Australia, and I am also very distressed to see what is happening to my beloved city. I would not blame anybody for not feeling comfortable in visiting HKG for whatever reason. It's not like the changes now are super noticeable on the surface for visitors but if you are aware of what's happened over he past two years and keep up to date with the news then you probably will feel a sense of unease or maybe just sadness at knowing what's changed under the surface for the Hong Kongers who live here. I am certainly considering relocating.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 635

Has anyone else noticed that:

Germany (Frankfurt), USA (San Francisco), Canada (Vancouver), South Korea (Seoul) all share something in common with Australia? They are ALL countries which have come under major criticism and exclusionary tactics from mainland China.

It is patently obvious that these are all major tier one travel destinations, not tier 2 or tier 3.

Further, if the HKG Government concern is genuinely about restricting growth and spread of COVID in HKG, then could someone please explain why London (LHR, LGW), France (CDG), Italy (FCO), LAX and Moscow are, as simple examples, still currently being served without restrictions? Gee, relevant 'hotspots' aren't they?

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 262

What about Kuala Lumpur & Saigon then? Those cities do not beling to countries that have criticized PRC. And Cathay still fly to Sydney. Let's try not to jump to conclusions. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2501

Let's not have this discussion sidetracked into politics, regardless of one's take on it with regard to the subject at hand.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 26

Its a sad fact that the wold has changed dramatically this past year on many levels. Covid and politics have been intertwined and regretfully some airlines have experienced significant  collateral damage.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 635

Thanks David - point taken. 

However, I consider that my second question regarding the selection of cities as being perfectly 'non-political' and valid in terms of COVID effects. Given the escalation of COVID cases in HKG in the last few weeks, the policy would seem to be an odd choice in terms of allowing travel to/from cities with significant COVID levels.

One would tend to think that countries such as Australia and South Korea which are being globally lauded for their control of the pandemic are on that list at all. 

Cathay, after all, seems to have been operating continuously, reasonably well into Australia without any issues.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2501

Appreciate that, however, it's political in nature and political comments can too easily derail discussions away from the core topic, which is when we'll close comments entirely – and I'd rather not have to do that pre-emptively. And generally, the more time we have to spend moderating comments and dicussions the less time we have to focus on our own core job of content.

08 Jan 2017

Total posts 1

Was recently in Alice Springs and half of theparked airplanes were Cathay Pacific.

15 Jan 2021

Total posts 8

First Emirates, now CP. Who’a next? AA?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jun 2018

Total posts 12

I really feel sorry for the staff here. 2 weeks hotel quarantine would be bad enough to experience once in a lifetime but imagine every time you go to work it is 2 weeks HQ at the end of your shift.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 42

Couldn't the crews who have to be quarantined in HK stay there for 2 days then fly back to the city they came from then back to HK and do another 2 days and so on a bit like groundhog day then after a couple of weeks of this do the 14 days and be allowed to enter HK. I would assume there would be some staff willing to do this rather than not working and getting paid?

I'm sure that CX has investigated that idea and every other solution. There certainly are some creative solutions being developed, Air New Zealand is having its crews change and stop over in Hawaii because it's lower risk than the mainland, and maybe some airlines might even consider flying a double crew to HKG so they don't deplane, they just take over from the inbound crew and run the return leg.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Feb 2021

Total posts 7

Agree with Mr Flynn re  the HK comment(politicised) but would like to point out a few things and hope it can be interpreted as to the value of safety and travel  on CX and any carriers into HKG in the last year or so. I am Australian and  a PR of HK since 2009 and lived and commuted from SYD for many years and also had Z visa to work in China as well and yes, things have probably changed but as I cannot get there, have to rely on ex colleagues and friends and assure you that if you did work there or travel for business at any time, then if you follow the guidelines, then there would be any issues even as a tourist or returning resident to work or play. China is the same and always need to be careful when talking politics(as in many other countries), but basically HK has been a safe place to work and live and hope that things can return to normal and CX and other major carriers can  operate successfully for the whole region. On a personal level, being a CZ Elite Plus has benefits when flying CZ domestically and out of Australia and far more  better treatment than QF Plats and CX  One World Emerald . Just my experience  in 100s of flights in China and to and from HK/CAN and  Xiamen. Thank you for listening

pps  Z visa a very demanding exercise to obtain and  especially renew

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 594

CX and HKG will never be the same after China's aggressive takeover. I'm not sure who you're speaking with but expats I know say forget the Hong Kong we used to know.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Feb 2021

Total posts 7

Thanks Mr Asia Biz Traveller  and sure are insightful and  knowing some CX crew from before and their ops , always certain they have many plans and best wishes to them all.  Many crew (tech and cabin) awaiting their pre COVID roles and know they will survive as the wealthy HK government will not allow it(Opinion only).

29 Jan 2020

Total posts 27

Tough times ahead for Cathay, I also will be in no hurry to visit Hong Kong again!


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