In response to the new quarantine regulations for flight crew, Cathay Pacific slashed most of its long-haul flights to Australia.
On February 10, 2021, as the Hong Kong government announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning flight staff, Cathay Pacific responded with the plan to cut all Australian flights, except Sydney. Services to Vancouver, Canada, San Francisco, United States and Frankfurt, Germany, have already been suspended.
While flights to Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Auckland will be cut beginning February 20, 2021, five weekly flights between Hong Kong and Sydney will remain in place.
“In view of the Hong Kong SAR Government’s latest announcement, with effect from February 20, 2021, our Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew are required to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine plus 7 days of medical surveillance when they return to Hong Kong after being on duty,” the airline confirmed in a statement.
“The new measure will have a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets,” noted Cathay Pacific chief operating officer Ronald Lam.
On January 15, 2021, Emirates also announced the suspension of flights to Australia “until further notice” due to “operational reasons”. Later on, the airline backflipped and said it was resuming the flights with tickets on sale from early April 2021.
In January 2021, in an effort to stop the new COVID-19 variants from entering the country, Australia set a weekly cap for international arrival with a limit of around 7,500 arrivals per week. That restricts airlines to carrying as few as 30-50 passengers on aircraft with a capacity of 250-350 seats.