© Huy Thoai
Cathay Pacific is dealing with retaliatory sanctions on its flights to the US.
The American Division of Transportation (DoT) says Covid-19 restrictions in Hong Kong are unfair and create a tilted enjoying subject.
The Hong Kong authorities carried out new Covid-19 restrictions on 20 February that embrace a compulsory 14-day quarantine for airline crews primarily based within the territory – each on passenger and freighter plane – returning after a global layover.
Whereas this really hits Hong Kong-based carriers probably the most, the US DoT is attacking an exception to the quarantine requirement for flights arriving from mainland China or from Alaska, arguing that the exemption completely advantages airways from Hong Kong and impairs the working rights of US carriers, denying them “honest and equal alternative”.
Anchorage is a significant transit level for Cathay’s transpacific cargo flights.
FedEx has filed a grievance concerning the restrictions and the Anchorage exemption with the DoT, claiming Hong Kong was abusing its quarantine regime, placing it at an obstacle. The integrator has moved its Hong Kong-based flight crews quickly to San Francisco in response to the brand new quarantine necessities.
The DoT argues that the exemption of Anchorage permits Cathay to proceed its cargo operations “with out influence”.
This argument is considerably doubtful, in response to Cathay. The quarantine guidelines have pressured it to chop its skeletal passenger operations by 60% and cargo by 25%, and it additionally reduce its freighter frequency to the US.
“The brand new crew quarantine measures have hit Cathay Pacific onerous. Because of crew useful resource constraints, our weekly freighter frequency between Hong Kong and the US has been decreased from the standard 35-39 flights to 21-28 flights,” a spokesperson stated, including that the brand new crew quarantine measures solely have an effect on airways with Hong Kong-based flight crews.
Cathay’s site visitors report for February reveals its passenger enterprise was down 97.9% and cargo tonnage declined 30.7%, with freight tonne-km down 26.2%.
The provider stated: “Demand did start to recuperate in the direction of the tip of the month, however this was impacted by the introduction of the tightened crew quarantine measures. These even have a notable influence on our capability and, subsequently, our tonnage carried. Total in February, capability dipped month on month by 23%.”
Nevertheless, the US authorities are clearly unimpressed, calling on the Hong Kong authorities to “restore a stage enjoying subject”.
On Tuesday, the DoT issued an order that requires Cathay to file flight schedules for all US flights inside seven days, to find out if any are “opposite to relevant legislation or adversely have an effect on the general public curiosity”. Basically, this forces the airline to file all of its US flights seven days prematurely to be accepted individually.
The order is to all Hong Kong-based airways, however neither Hong Kong Airways nor HK Specific at present fly to the US, so it’s squarely geared toward Cathay.
Its spokesperson stated: “As a global airline, we’ll proceed to adjust to all of the relevant aviation laws in each Hong Kong and the territories to which we fly. Cathay Pacific believes it’s within the curiosity of the final and travelling public for this matter to be resolved amongst all related events as quickly as attainable.”
Apparently the argument has been smouldering for some time. In keeping with one report, the US consulate in Hong Kong had complained in February, warning that failure to appropriate the difficulty might pressure the US to take regulatory motion.
The Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau dismissed the US claims as “unfounded” and reasoned that the exemption for Alaska flights was equally relevant to all airways.
The present political local weather between the US and China within the wake of latest adjustments to civil rights in Hong Kong will not be more likely to facilitate efforts to discover a answer shortly.