Hong Kong today further relaxed the Covid-19 requirements in the city, and Sebastian covered the changes in his piece (read more here).
There will be one roadblock in getting to Hong Kong and flying from there, as the airline capacity has been decimated and Cathay Pacific only intends to fly roughly 30% of their 2019 schedule by the end of this year and 70% by the end of 2023.
You can access Cathay Pacific here.
Cathay Pacific laid off a large share of its employees during the pandemic and is now short on qualified cockpit and cabin crew, and recruitment and training in this sector always takes time.
Also, trying to hire expat cockpit crew will be a challenge after significant pay and benefit cuts that foreign pilots have endured.
Press Release from Cathay Pacific:
Cathay Pacific welcomes the Hong Kong SAR Government’s latest measures to facilitate travel to Hong Kong, especially the decision to remove the Amber Code restrictions under the Vaccine Pass for inbound persons entering Hong Kong effective tomorrow, 14 December 2022.
The adjustments will help further boost sentiment for travel, especially among inbound visitors, thereby facilitating the resumption of travel activities and strengthening of network connectivity at the Hong Kong aviation hub.
The Cathay Pacific Group, which includes passenger airlines Cathay Pacific and HK Express, has already added about 3,000 passenger flight sectors in the fourth quarter of this year. This includes Cathay Pacific resuming flights to popular destinations such as Tokyo (Haneda), Denpasar (Bali) and Zurich in November, as well as Sapporo, Fukuoka, Penang and Dhaka in December. More popular destinations are set to be resumed in 2023, including Phuket and Nagoya in January.
Meanwhile, HK Express has resumed flights to Tokyo (Haneda), Chiang Mai and Da Nang in December, with services to Jeju and Busan in the pipeline for January.
The Group remains fully committed to rebuilding the connectivity of the Hong Kong international aviation hub. As a Group, we are on track to achieve our target of operating up to one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels by the end of 2022. We anticipate that we will be operating around 70% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity by the end of 2023, with an aim to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024.
There are significant obstacles for Cathay Pacific to rump up their operations in Hong Kong, and it likely is a challenge and expensive to fly to/from the city before more airlines return.
Also, the political climate and suppression of free speech in Hong Kong have made the city a less attractive place to do business for multinationals that have relocated their regional operations to other Asian megacities of Seoul and Singapore. As a result, there is less demand from business travelers.
There has been emigration among the population that values civil liberties, including Hongkonger who checked me in last night in London (they had left Hong Kong summer of 2021).
I certainly hope Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong can rebound from the unnecessarily long covid-restrictions and mainland influence. I have always enjoyed flying on Cathay, most recently in October.