Coronavirus: Hong Kong transit passenger bans continue 'indefinitely'

Hong Kong will keep the shutters pulled down as it battles a resurgence of the coronavirus.

By David Flynn, April 7 2020
Coronavirus: Hong Kong transit passenger bans continue 'indefinitely'

Hong Kong will remain closed to foreigners for an indefinite period of time, after the Government opted overnight to extend entry restrictions "until further notice."

The city's airport will continue to ban all passengers in transit, as well as deny entry to visitors.

Those restrictions were first put into place on March 25 and were at the time to be implemented tentatively for 14 days, ending on April 7.

However, with Hong Kong now seeing more than double the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past fortnight – and the bulk of those having clear connections with travel – "the Government has decided to extend the aforementioned entry restriction and suspension of airport transit services until further notice."

In addition, all arrivals at the airport are required to go to the nearby AsiaWorld Expo site for COVID-19 testing, before proceeding to their home for the mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

The rolling restrictions will add to the pressure on Cathay Pacific, which has already pared its global network down to what the airline describes as "a bare skeleton".

This includes just two flights per week in April to Sydney, London, Los Angeles and Vancouver, with three weekly flights to eight regional cities including Singapore, Tokyo and Manila.

"A timeline for a recovery in our customer demand still remains impossible to predict," notes Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang.

PREVIOUS [March 23, 2020] | Hong Kong will ban all visitors to the city, and passengers in transit through Hong Kong International Airport, following the lead of Singapore in a desperate pitch to stamp out a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The restrictions come into force from 12.01am Wednesday March 25 (local time) and will be in effect for 14 days.

The Hong Kong Government notes that "All transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended".

Cathay Pacific has updated its website advising travellers that under the new transit restrictions effective from 25 March 2020, "For all passengers transiting through Hong Kong, their onward flight’s scheduled departure time must be before 23:59 on 24 March 2020." 

Singapore's own ban on visitors and transit passengers has already seen Singapore Airlines slash its network to a handful of destinations flown by just nine jets out of a fleet of 147.

Across April and May, Cathay Pacific will shrink its network to "a skeleton schedule" of only 15 destinations, all served by three flights per week.

Those cities are Sydney, London/Heathrow, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City; the airline's regional arm, Cathay Dragon, will fly to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

The staggering 96% cut in passenger capacity has been driven by what the airline describes as "the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan."

Cathay Pacific has been particularly exposed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline's international routes are funnelled through its busy Hong Kong hub, while Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon also maintained an extensive network of 368 flights per week to 23 destinations across mainland China.

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.

12 Oct 2018

Total posts 10

Anyone have any thoughts on the future sustainability of Cathay? Will it survive this? Would be sad to lose a OW/Qantas ally which offers great alternatives to America and Europe.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2013

Total posts 51

I'm sure it will survive. The real question is under what form? I'm sure if it goes bust that some Chinese company will buy the brand. It's got global appeal at least. OneWorld: to soon to tell if it will stay if it will leave. Great alternative: sometimes.

23 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

Do you think that pre existing schedules such as Sydney London on 28/03 via Hong Kong will still go ahead?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2013

Total posts 51

Stay tuned for more info. It's probable too soon to tell. Plus gov might put further restriction on travel.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 81

David - given the rapidly reducing flight options available, it might be helpful to also do up an article that can be kept updated with the remaining flight options in / out of Australia, as well as connection hubs that will still allow transit passengers. In the next 48hrs, looks like DOH will be one of the few remaining connection options to Europe. Airline systems and call centres do not appear to be keeping up with the rapid changes.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

We've got that coming up later today :)

24 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

Is this definitely transit passengers too? I have a flight to London transiting in Hong Kong in the early hours of the 26th. I've seen other articles state that they are restricting people entering into the country - not people just stopping?

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 81

HK Govt website says ban from 25th is only for those non-residents trying to enter the country. No mention of banning transit passengers. Cathay website also notes that transits are still OK for now. Might need to update the article, unless the author is aware of something not yet publically advised?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

See the article now for links to the announcement on the HK Gov website and also to Cathay Pacific's website regarding the impact on transit passengers. These didn't go up until long after the actual announcement by the HK CEO.

24 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

Hello. So many young people suddenly stranded in NZ as borders close with minimal notice and carriers change their service. Great to see goodwill - Australia extending period for transit - Malaysia allowing transit as Singapore closed - but nothing is guaranteed for the few days to a week to two weeks that it takes to get seats. IATA seems out of date and also says very little about transit - some airports posting current transit rules on their websites - but can be really hard to find info. There does not seem to be, and maybe cannot be, a live updated table of open borders for transit. This would be such a helpful thing - have suggested it to the British High Commission in Wellington - but is it the sort of thing you could do?! Came across this site during my many hours of research and on-hold and it was so useful to get some info. If you have any more then I could maybe post a link on the British High Commission Twitter feed that they are using to provide people with (thus far rather scant) info on leaving NZ, as they concentrate their efforts on opening transit borders. Thank you.

Wm
Wm

24 Mar 2020

Total posts 2

It doesn't sound true. I am flying to Singapore through Hong Kong tomorrow and Cathay only rebooked my flight to Singapore (the cancelled all but one flight). Check the HKG website- no news about transit shut down. Checked the HKG government webpage - also no news.

So it sounds to me like fake news...

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

Hi Wm: see the article now for links to the announcement on the HK Gov website and also to Cathay Pacific's website regarding the impact on transit passengers. These didn't go up until long after the actual announcement by the HK CEO.

24 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

can someone assist with this issue

We have passengers on a MEL-HKG-MAN flights on 24 March. They land at HKG at 21.45 and fly out to Manchester at 01.35 on 25th

The ban on transiting through begins at 00.01 will they be allowed through bearing in mind they land 2hr 15 mins before the lockdown

Any advice would be greatly received

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

Update: this has been very fast-moving, as was Singapore's similar announcement; the HKG Govt press conference very clearly called out a transit ban, but the language used in the official HK Govt press release was far more opaque, saying only "All transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended". However and as noted in an update to the article this morning, Cathay Pacific is now publicising the transit passenger restrictions on its website (albeit not in the clearest way either): "For all passengers transiting through Hong Kong, their onward flight’s scheduled departure time must be before 23:59 on 24 March 2020."

Wm
Wm

24 Mar 2020

Total posts 2

Hi David et al.

It turned out true indeed. HK Government posted press release with wording on "suspending transit facilities". I called Cathay Pacific hotline in US and they only gave me an option to cancel my return ticket and refund. They also wished me good luck in booking my new flight (in a genuinely polite way). Managed to get one on JAL one day later through Haneda. Eva Air is still flying, but Taiwan also suspended transit in Taipei, so JAL was the only option.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 77

any thoughts on why Qantas and/or virgin (or the Gov't) have chosen HKG as a point where people can get to for repatriation flights? It doesn't sound like that would be able to happen.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 81

Whilst there are likely plenty of expats in HKG that stayed after the lockdown, I reckon that keeping key freight routes open would also be a factor?

Hey, I had a question. Does everyone who enter Hong Kong need to be tested for the virus? I heard about it somewhere but do not know if it is true or not.

26 May 2020

Total posts 1

Hallo everyone ...I have flight on 28th June hk to London ....so another 5 weeks ,does anyone know if hk airport authority review their transit ban regularly ,or is there another link that provides info .....Cathay don't have further update ....anyone's knowledge would be appreciated ,thanks


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