Mon, 05 Jun 2023

HONG KONG: Impacted by strict quarantine rules that caused a 98 percent drop in passengers, executives from Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said the airline will bring back more planes to rebuild Hong Kong's status as a flight hub amidst easing restrictions.

On the sidelines of an airline industry gathering in Doha, Cathay Chief Executive Augustus Tang told Reuters, "We have about one-third of our passenger fleet still parked in the desert, not being utilized. We are making preparations for them gradually coming back ahead of the curve."

Since Singapore eased quarantine rules, Cathy's rival, Singapore Airlines, has witnessed a surge in demand, which was back at 61 percent of pre-COVID-19 capacity in May, filling 78.2 percent of seats, their best month since the start of the pandemic.

In contrast, in May Cathay Pacific operated only 4 percent of its pre-COVID capacity, filling 60.5 percent of seats.

Hong Kong's decision to gradually reduce the quarantine time for passengers, which was as high as three weeks for arriving travelers, including from the U.S. and the UK, is encouraging, Tang stressed.

"It is moving in the right direction, and the momentum is gathering, so we are pretty optimistic that we are going to see more and more of this opening up," he added.

Cathay has resumed flights to 45 destinations, up from 30 at the start of the year, with 70 destinations to be available by the end of the year as demand improves, compared to the 108 passenger destinations it operated before the pandemic, he added.

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