aviation industry

Zero-COVID policy has cost Hong Kong its aviation hub status – IATA

Reuters
Zero-COVID policy has cost Hong Kong its aviation hub status – IATA

SET FOR QUARANTINE. Travelers queue up for a shuttle bus to quarantine hotels at the Hong Kong International Airport, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Hong Kong, August 1, 2022.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

'Cathay Pacific is a shadow of its former self as a result. Hong Kong has lost its position as a global hub and will struggle to regain it,' says International Air Transport Association chief Willie Walsh

DOHA, Qatar – Hong Kong has lost its position as a global aviation hub due to China’s zero-COVID policy, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday, September 21, warning the industry’s recovery from the pandemic would be slowed if Beijing continued its restrictions next year.

Attending an IATA conference in the Qatari capital Doha, IATA director general Willie Walsh said China’s zero-COVID policy had “devastated” Hong Kong and hit airline Cathay Pacific hard.

“Cathay Pacific is a shadow of its former self as a result. Hong Kong has lost its position as a global hub and will struggle to regain it because other hubs have taken advantage of it,” he said, blaming government policies, not the virus.

Hong Kong is traditionally a major hub where passengers transit between international flights and on journeys to China, and is the base of Cathay Pacific.

The pace of the recovery in global passenger demand has picked up over the northern hemisphere summer, with airline executives attributing higher than expected demand to a surge of people keen to travel after two years of restrictions.

But the recovery has been uneven, with China continuing to enforce tight COVID-19-related border and social curbs.

Walsh said IATA was closely watching for any indications that China would ease its restrictions, and said there had previously been expectations there would be changes this year.

If the restrictions continue next year, the industry will suffer.

“It clearly will have an impact on the overall strength of the recovery,” Walsh told reporters. – Rappler.com

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