Cathay Pacific suspends cargo flights due to anti-virus measures

Hong Kong — Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong will suspend cargo flights for a week due to stricter crew quarantine requirements and potentially burdening global supply chains.

Long-haul flights across Europe and the Pacific to Riad and Dubai have been suspended until January 6, according to the airline. It promised to try to help customers “alleviate confusion.”

Hong Kong is tightening virus control after confirming the first case of a community infection of the Omicron variant of coronavirus on Friday, associated with a Cathay Pacific crew member returning from the United States on Christmas day.

After Cathay Pacific’s flight crew quarantine returning from abroad has been extended from the 3rd to a week in a hotel room, the airline’s workforce has grown thinly.

Thursday’s announcement did not reveal details, but the South China Morning Post newspaper said a longer quarantine would leave Cathay without sufficient pilots for all its flights.

The airline previously asked its staff to volunteer for a “closed loop system.” The system works for a three-week stint with a short stop in Hong Kong, but news reports show that too few people agreed.

Cathay previously said that due to staff shortages, passenger flight schedules will be shortened in the first three months of 2022.

The crew apparently violated the three-day quarantine rules and had lunch at a restaurant two days after returning from the United States. Two other people eating at the Moon Palace restaurant on Monday were infected. A construction worker eating at a distance of 10 meters (30 feet) from the crew’s father.

City leader Carrie Lam has expressed strong dissatisfaction with both the chairman and chief executive officer of the city’s flagship airline, Health Minister Sophia Chan said at a news conference.

Cathay Pacific said in a statement that recently five crew members tested positive for Omicron and some crew members did not comply with the regulations. It apologized and said they would be disciplined.

Health officials said it could be the fifth major wave of infection in the city and said it was at high risk of further spread.

Hong Kong has recorded 81 cases of Omicron. The others were from overseas.

Associated Press