Aircrew quarantine could result in losses, Cathay warns

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On January 25, 2021, Hong Kong flag-carrier Cathay Pacific warned that the government’s planned stringent quarantine restrictions for aircrew could inflict financial losses. The new quarantine rules are expected to come into force from February 1, 2021. 

“Effective later within February 2021, the Hong Kong SAR Government will implement a new 14-day hotel quarantine plus 7-day medical surveillance requirement for both our Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew,” Cathay Pacific said in a business report for December 2020. 

The strict quarantine measures could have a significant impact on the airline’s ability to service passengers and cargo operations. However, the actual extent of new quarantine restrictions for its flight crew is yet to be confirmed, according to Cathay Pacific.

“At this stage, our preliminary assessment is that the new measure may result in a reduction of current passenger capacity of around 60%, a reduction of current cargo capacity of around 25% and a further increase in our cash burn of approximately HK$300-$400 million per month, on top of our current HK$1.0-1.5 billion levels,” the statement read.

On January 21, 2021, Hong Kong Minister of Health Sophie Chan Siu-chee confirmed that a 14-day quarantine rule is expected to be imposed on flight crews in bid to contain a surge of COVID-19 infection across the city.

“Under the premise of watertight measures and stringent prevention, we don’t have other alternatives,” Chan said in an interview with the South China Morning Post (SCMP). “Also, the virus is more active during winter and there have been more mutated strains, therefore, we hope to be more stringent. We are sorry about that.”

In the business report for December 2020, the airline said it carried 1,290 passengers daily, and the metric to indicate how full its planes were, showed 18.4%. 

“We increased capacity by about 8% in December compared to November as we gradually added capacity on flights serving North America, the South Pacific and some regional routes,” Cathay Pacific in a statement.

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