Cathay Pacific will 'health-screen' all passengers before they are allowed to check in for their flight, as the airline prepares to reboot its international network and Hong Kong once again permits transfers at the airline's home hub.
"From 29 May 2020, we require passengers to answer health screening questions upon check-in at worldwide airports including Hong Kong," the airline said in a statement, adding that this was one of "a number of measures to safeguard the wellbeing of our passengers and crew."
"While the risk of transmission from one passenger to another onboard remains very low, we’re introducing additional requirements for added protection."
In addition to the health checks, the airline also warns that it is "unable to accept anyone presenting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 for travel" – a roster which includes "respiratory symptoms, such as a fever, cough, sore throat or muscle aches" – as well as any would-be passenger who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel, or have themselves been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Cathay already requires that passengers wear face coverings all all stages of their journey, from check-in and in lounges through to boarding, during the flight and when collecting luggage.
Hong Kong airport will begin to lift its ban on transit passengers "in phases starting from June 1," although the airport's media team has declined to share more specific details.
However, the ban on all visitors to the city remains in place: "all non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries/regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong."
More flights to follow
Cathay Pacific, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, has since April operated to "a skeleton schedule" of barely a dozen destinations served by just a handful of flights per week.
However, the airline plans aims to put a little flesh onto those bones with a slow but steady rebuild of its international network beginning June 21.
This will see Sydney, London Heathrow, Los Angeles and Vancouver boosted to five flights per week. Melbourne is set for three flights per week, along with Amsterdam, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Mumbai and Delhi.
Cathay will also mount daily flights to Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, while its Asia-focussed Cathay Dragon arm is set for a daily service to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
Most of Cathay's lounges remain closed, with only The Wing at Hong Kong welcoming passengers, while the lounge experience itself now encompasses social distancing and suspending the self-serve buffet to offer "individually packed food options".
The Noodle Bar remains open in The Wing Business Class, as does the a la carte dining room at The Wing First Class.