Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), spoke at an aviation conference in Doha on Sept. 21, saying that mainland China’s “Ultra-strict” “Zero-COVID” policy, has “devastated” Hong Kong-a former British colony, and deprived Hong Kong of its status as a global aviation hub.
It has been three years since the outbreak of COVID-19, and with most of the countries canceling their travel restrictions, Hong Kong still follows mainland China’s “Zero-COVID” policy, restricting the entry of overseas passengers. Lots of airlines are forced to cancel flights to and from Hong Kong, due to the severe restrictions on airlines.
“Hong Kong has lost its position as a global hub and will struggle to regain it because other hubs have taken advantage of it,” said Walsh.
Hong Kong International Airport has been an international aviation hub before the epidemic, but from April to June, it only received 591,000 passengers; and the number for Singapore Changi Airport is 7,300,000.
According to Cirium, a company providing data and analytics for aviation, that there were 45 foreign airlines were grounded on Hong Kong routes in September, including British Airways, Air France, and Etihad Airways of United Arab Emirates.
And there are 85 airlines flying to Hong Kong before the epidemic.
Virgin Air UK said that they had planned to resume flights to London from September, but due to the “ongoing operational complexities,” the schedule was postponed to March 2023.
As requested by the Hong Kong government, all the non-resident crew members must isolate at the airport hotel, under closed-loop arrangements after arrival. Until they board the flight and leave Hong Kong. They are not allowed to enter the Hong Kong community during the quarantine period.
Overseas tourists arriving in Hong Kong are subject to the “3+4” quarantine policy. They are subject to a compulsory quarantine for three days in the hotel, and then four days of stay-at-home for medical supervision.
All tourists are restricted by the “vaccine pass” and “yellow code,” and not allowed to enter high-risk places like no-masks-needed areas or group activities.
Before boarding the airline, they must present a record of two injections, the result of the PCR test within 48 hours, a health declaration, and the reservation confirmation of the designated quarantine hotel.
On Sept 20, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu was asked by reporters, when the government would relax the entry quarantine policy, whether to cancel the PCR test before the tourist boarding, etc. John Lee said the government will announce a detailed scheme with other new plans under the overall epidemic prevention policy, in the wish to connect with the world.