Cathay Pacific today announced it will implement “substantial reductions” to its long-haul freighter capacity in the first quarter due to the latest crew quarantine measures imposed by authorities in Hong Kong.

The new rules, announced on December 30, mean air cargo crew members will be required to undergo compulsory quarantine at a quarantine hotel for seven days upon arrival in Hong Kong, presenting airlines with a huge operational challenge when trying to maintain schedules.

The carrier said that regional freighter operations would continue as normal but the reduction in long-haul flights would “severely” impact contracted cargo.

The worst hit regions are Europe and South West Pacific where the carrier plans to cancel all freighter flights during the quarter.

However, it will maintain some cargo flights to the two regions using cargo-only passenger capacity (COP).

“Regional COP services will operate as scheduled in the first quarter, while COP services to The Americas will remain suspended in January and only a skeleton COP schedule to Europe and South West Pacific will be operated.

“We are assessing options to increase long-haul COP capacity in February, however, this is likely to be limited.”

The carrier added: “In parallel, we are exploring alternative operating modes to increase long-haul freighter capacity beyond this base schedule, however, such capacity is likely to be limited and will take time to implement.”

Cathay Pacific said that the freighter schedule is firm, subject to no further changes to crew quarantine requirements.

Source: Cathay Pacific Cargo

System adjustments to the schedule will be completed today and the latest flight information will be available through the Check Flight Availability function here.

“We will continue to review our current operations and will update customers in the event that there are further changes,” the carrier said.

“We sincerely apologise for the disruption caused. Our local teams will continue to work with customers to mitigate this latest disruption as much as possible.”

Cathay said it would also continue to explore opportunities to increase regional frequencies to meet demand.

Hong Kong had initially required cargo crew members to isolate at home for three days.

However, in later December the isolation was changed to three days at a hotel – rather than home – and then at the end of the month this was increased to seven days at hotel.

It has been a tough start to the year for shippers looking to export cargo out of Hong Kong.

In late December, Cathay announced that it would halt all long-haul freighter flights until January 6 due to the stricter quarantine rules.

Then yesterday, Hong Kong authorities banned all incoming passenger flights from eight countries as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant.

Source : aircargonews