Cathay Pacific will cancel almost all flights between Australia and Hong Kong as of January 1 2022 as operational and travel restrictions continue to affect its schedules.
Sydney, which had seen two Cathay Pacific flights per day in December, will be reduced to an average of two flights per week across January, while Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are being dropped from the schedule entirely; flights to Adelaide also remain suspended.
The year-end holiday season is typically a busy time for Cathay and Hong Kong as an aviation hub, but the pandemic and the government’s strict rules on quarantine have forced it to dramatically pare back services.
On Monday, Cathay services from New York to Hong Kong were banned until January 2 after three passengers on a flight on that route were found to have Covid.
Cathay’s ability to serve even a skeleton schedule has been hampered as aircrew are forced into a so-called closed-loop system which keeps them away from home for several weeks. That’s prompted the airline to relocate some pilots to Los Angeles.
Cathay already cut flights in December, again citing operational and travel restrictions.
Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, which holds a stake of about 10% in Cathay, recently said Hong Kong’s Covid policy was “killing” the airline, according to the South China Morning Post.
Meanwhile, OAG Chief Economist John Grant warned that continued border closures in Hong Kong could “utterly destroy” Cathay and the city’s position as a hub.
The carrier is operating about 12% of its pre-pandemic flight capacity, with its passenger numbers for November 2021 down 97% from the same month in 2019.
The numbers “reflect the airline’s substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place in Hong Kong and other markets,” Cathay said at the time.
Additional reporting by David Flynn
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