Hong Kong Airport to Resume Transit Flights From Mainland
Passengers from the Chinese mainland will be able to transit through Hong Kong International Airport to other destinations starting Saturday as the city gradually relaxes months-long travel restrictions imposed for the Covid-19 pandemic, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) said early Thursday.
The resumption of outbound transit services will last until Oct. 15. Inbound transit flights to mainland cities will remain suspended, the authority said.
The temporary transit relaxation is expected to offer a minor boost to one of Asia’s busiest airport hubs and the city’s beleaguered carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., which is struggling with heavy losses as the pandemic brought travel to a near standstill.
Traffic at Hong Kong International Airport in June fell 99.1% to 59,000 passengers from a year ago, according to AAHK. Transit passengers in June fell by almost 100% year-on-year, while Hong Kong’s outbound tourists fell by 98% from the same time last year.
Cathay Pacific said it resumed flights from mainland cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xiamen to Hong Kong, and to major international cities. The company, which usually relies on mainland traffic for a large portion of revenue, reported a HK$9.9 billion ($1.3 billion) first-half loss Wednesday.
The new policy will help students to resume studies abroad. Hong Kong had imposed strict border control policies amid the Covid-19 pandemic as all transit services were suspended March 25. It started to allow transfers June 1 but not to the mainland. All non-Hong Kong residents are still not allowed to enter the city after arrival. It means that overseas travelers are still unable to reach the mainland via connecting flights in Hong Kong or taking shuttle services.
China’s aviation regulator has slowly eased restrictions on international flights as the country gradually recovered from the pandemic. A total of 93 Chinese and foreign airlines operated 187 scheduled international passenger routes for 210 round-trip flights a week as of Tuesday, officials of the Civil Aviation Administration said Wednesday at a press conference.
Transit passengers must undergo temperature checks and wear face masks upon arrival in Hong Kong. The total of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong reached 4,243 as of Tuesday, and the airport also reported a few cases involving staff and family members.
Contact editors Han Wei (email@example.com) and Bob Simison (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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