Cathay Pacific is going against the global trend and is resuming some flights between the US and Europe. The airline is temporarily reintroducing flights in time for Easter so stranded passengers can return home. There will be flights between Hong Kong and London Heathrow and routes to North America.
Reinstating some flights
Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific has been hit hard by the spread of Coronavirus. Previously it announced huge capacity cuts due to government restrictions and quarantine rules. At one point, around 65% of the airline’s flights were cancelled. But now, it is starting to open up routes again.
The airline has cited Easter holiday demand as enough reason to begin offering select routes again. The airline said it “understands that many Hong Kong students and citizens in North America and London are eager to come home as soon as possible and in time for the Easter break”.
Hong Kong has managed to contain the virus fairly successfully compared to other countries. There are just over 100 confirmed cases of the virus and only two deaths. While the people of Hong Kong got off fairly lightly, Cathay Pacific was hit hard.
The airline operated several daily flights to mainland China which, since suspended, will impact its financial results this year. Although the reinstated flights are a step in the right direction, there is a long way to go before the airline can resume normal services. However, it clearly believes there is enough demand to operate some flights.
The flights in question
Flight CX845 to Hong Kong from New York’s JFK airport will operate on the 19th of March. Flight CX811 to Hong Kong from Boston will operate a day later on the 20th. Flights from Los Angeles will operate between the 20th and 28th of March with a larger aircraft for the maximum capacity. However, the flight will not operate on the 23rd of March.
Cathay Pacific will also operate flight CX857 from Seattle on the 21st of March with a larger aircraft. The same is true of flights CX893 and CX879 from San Francisco on the 16th and 18th of March.
However, the largest change is for flights to and from London Heathrow. Not only will Cathay Pacific reinstate flights CX879 on the 18th, flight CX250 between the 17th and the 21st as well as resuming flight CX254 on the 19th, it will also offer flights from Hong Kong to London. Between the 17th and the 19th flight CX255 will allow those from Hong Kong to return to the UK. Flight CX 256 will also operate between the 18th and 20th of March.
The aircraft on the Seattle and San Francisco routes are going to be upgraded from an A350-900 to an A350-1000 to allow for extra capacity.
What passengers can expect
Despite this positive sign for the aviation industry, passengers who manage to get seats on Cathay Pacific’s Easter flights will still have to abide by government regulations. Yesterday, Hong Kong issued a red warning against anyone travelling from the UK, the US, Ireland and Egypt. Anyone on the reinstated flights to Hong Kong for Easter will be quarantined at home for two weeks.
These countries join South Korea, Iran, the Schengen Area of Europe and Hokkaido in Japan on the list of countries on Hong Kong’s red list.
Travelling at this time is very stressful and comes with lots of restrictions which change at a daily rate. But Cathay Pacific’s decision means some stranded passengers will be able to make their way home. No doubt airlines around the world will be watching to see how much demand there is, and if this will impact the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong.