New travel rules to curb the epidemic of Omicron in Hong Kong appear to further isolate Asian financial hubs. Due to the emergence of more contagious variants, at least four international airlines were banned from operating certain routes that month.
Hong Kong was already sticking to China’s pursuit of Covid-zero policy, but authorities tightened the rules again this week, with Covid-19 when four or more passengers arrived from the same location within seven days. If it is confirmed that you have that route, you will be suspended for 14 days.
Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific suspended routes from Doha and New York until early January, respectively, and Nepal Airlines and Air India flights between Hong Kong, Kathmandu and Delhi were also affected.
Hong Kong discovered the first case of Omicron on November 25th. Highly contagious mutants are currently the predominant strains in some major cities around the world, and are significantly more likely to identify more cases upon arrival at the airport.
Airport cleaners were suspected of being infected with Omicron on Friday. This may be the first case in the city for those who haven’t traveled recently. Hong Kong has confirmed 34 cases of Omicron so far, and all previously traveled individuals were detected on arrival or during quarantine.
Cathay warned on Wednesday about the cancellation of some more flights. Only a few days after the service from New York was shut down, until January 2, after it was discovered that three passengers on the route had Covid-19. Qatar Airways CEO recently said Hong Kong’s Covid policy “killed” the airline.
Even before Covid, Cathay was hit by political fallout from the 2019 rebel protest. Currently, most international travel remains suspended due to China’s strict Covid-Zero policy. The airline flew only 70,047 passengers in November, down 97% from the same month of 2019.
Apart from the suspension of flights due to the Covid incident on board, strict quarantine rules for Hong Kong crew members are deterring airlines.
Last week, British Airways put a flight to Hong Kong on hold until March after airline crew members were forced to quarantine in a government facility without wifi. Swiss International Air Lines AG, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, is one of the other airlines that has similarly scheduled due to Hong Kong’s tough Covid stance.
https://gulfbusiness.com/qatar-airways-route-from-doha-to-hong-kong-put-on-hold-until-early-january/ Qatar Airways route from Doha to Hong Kong was suspended until early January