Cathay Pacific has fired two air crew members after they breached strict COVID-19 protocols, the airline has announced.
Five of the Hong Kong-based airline’s crew tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 after returning to the city from flight duty. The positive tests were recorded while they were under medical surveillance in Hong Kong, Cathay confirmed in a statement to AeroTime on January 3, 2022.
“Regrettably, our investigation into these cases has indicated a serious breach of protocols by some of those individuals,” the airline said. “Failure to comply with medical surveillance regulations will lead to disciplinary procedures. Two of the individuals are no longer employed by Cathay Pacific.”
Hong Kong has some of the strictest COVID-19 quarantine measures as it attempts to keep the spread of the virus limited.
“The actions of these individuals are extremely disappointing, as they undermine the otherwise exemplary dedication and compliance shown by our over 10,000 aircrew,” Cathay said in the statement. “Cathay Pacific is acutely aware of the critical importance of complying with anti-pandemic measures both in Hong Kong and overseas, and apologizes for the inconvenience and disruption caused by these non-compliant cases.”
The government has further tightened measures for air crew after cases of the Omicron variant were found in the community.
According to the new measures announced on December 31, 2021, all air cargo crew who are based in Hong Kong will be required to stay in designated quarantine hotels until a negative PCR test taken on the seventh day following their arrival. They will be subject to further tests upon leaving quarantine hotels.
As a result of the tougher COVID-19 measures, Cathay Pacific has suspended all long-haul freighter and cargo-only passenger flights for seven days, until January 6, 2022.
“We will be working with customers to mitigate the disruption as much as possible,” the airline said. “In addition, we are working with the relevant stakeholders on plans beyond 6 January and will communicate further on these as soon as possible.”
This is not the first time Cathay has taken disciplinary action against crews who have broken COVID-19 rules. In November, cargo pilots were fired after breaching rules while on layover in Frankfurt, Germany.
Logistics giant FedEx has meanwhile opted to move its pilots out of Hong Kong due to the tough restrictions and the impact it was having on crews.