Cathay Crew Who Flew From Frankfurt Doing 21-Day Quarantine
(Bloomberg) -- Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said any aircrew members who have stayed in Frankfurt this month will need to undergo a 21-day quarantine in a government facility after three pilots on cargo flights from the German financial hub were confirmed Covid cases.
As a precautionary measure, Cathay has immediately changed hotel for aircrew staying in Frankfurt and will suspend layovers in the German city for cargo crew, it said in a statement Monday. The airline, the world’s third-biggest airfreight commercial carrier, is also requiring crew members take daily Covid tests.
Frankfurt is Cathay’s cargo hub in Europe, James Teo, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Singapore, said. Data show that five out of eight flights to and from Frankfurt are for cargo this week, he added.
“Cathay Pacific fully recognizes the Hong Kong SAR government’s mission to keep Hong Kong free from Covid-19,” Cathay said in the statement. “As the home carrier of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is fully committed to protecting and enhancing Hong Kong’s aviation hub status and to keep the flow of people and cargo between Hong Kong and the rest of the world moving despite the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic.”
The carrier’s stricter measures are upsetting some staff, with several taking to social media to document their experience.
Hong Kong, the world’s busiest airport for international aircargo, is stepping up measures to try to contain the spread of the virus as part of its Covid Zero push to reopen its border with mainland China, which is also pursuing an elimination strategy. The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said restarting two-way travel with China comes above everything else.
Cathay is conducting a thorough internal investigation into the latest Covid cases and will take appropriate measures and actions if there are areas for improvement or compliance requirements weren’t followed, it said.
The airline will also immediately step up compliance checks at overseas stations to ensure Cathay’s health and safety protocols are being strictly followed by aircrew members during their layovers, it said. The carrier will require its crew to take the third dose of vaccine and also encourage all staff to do the same as soon as possible.
Cathay also Monday renewed a request to its Boeing Co. 747 pilots for more volunteers to take part in its so-called closed-loop plan to ensure smooth operations in its flights. The airline has been operating the program that calls for the crew to isolate at a hotel whenever they return to Hong Kong during their 21-day duty cycle. Once the three-week shift is over, they must self isolate for 14 days and then they have 14 days off.
Cathay said last week that a possible move by Hong Kong to rein in quarantine exemptions for aircrew operating cargo flights could reduce the number of available employees and disrupt the supply of goods moving in and out of the financial hub. Hong Kong’s flag carrier moves an array of goods globally, from mobile devices to garments and fresh fruit and seafood, and had 34 freighters in its fleet at the end of June.
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