United Airlines and American Airlines were both due to resume services to Hong Kong this week. However, these plans have been pushed back due to new coronavirus testing procedures for flight crew arriving at the Asian economic hub.
Business Traveller reports that crew members arriving at Hong Kong are now required to provide throat saliva samples at a government facility nearby. If someone refuses to be tested, they will be subjected to a fine and imprisonment. Meanwhile, if there is a positive result, hospital admission will be arranged as soon as possible. Altogether, these measures could further complicate issues for employees.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
As a result, United canceled yesterday’s flight to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) from San Francisco. The Chicago-based carrier was also using the opportunity to fly to the airport to connect to its customers to Singapore. It was excited about reconnecting its passengers to key Asia Pacific markets once again.
A United representative told Simple Flying the following about Wednesday’s canceled flight:
“UA877 was canceled due to recent changes in testing protocol at HKG, and United flights to and from HKG are suspended through July 10 westbound and their corresponding returns. We are currently assessing how this impacts our future operations.”
Change of plan
Additionally, American had to cancel today’s flight to Hong Kong from Dallas/Fort Worth. These services have been out of action since January and will remain this way through August 5th.
An American spokesperson told Simple Flying the following:
“We’ve been making regular adjustments to our schedule to match demand, and we consider a range of factors including travel restrictions or entry requirements in making network decisions.”
Even though the spread of the virus had a significant impact on its neighbors early on, Hong Kong’s cases were relatively low. However, over the last few weeks, there has been a small rise in daily cases. In total, there have been 1,324 confirmed cases in the city-state since the outbreak started.
Meanwhile, the United States is continuing to see a considerable number of daily cases. Over the last week, there have been between approximately 45,000 and 62,000 confirmed cases a day across the nation. In total, there have been over 3.1 million cases in the country since the outbreak started.
Nonetheless, several companies are looking to get back in action, and many passengers are trying to get their lives back on track following several months of downtime. However, Hong Kong is not willing to take risks at the point of entry. Therefore, it is implementing robust measures from the very beginning.
The challenge continues
Ultimately, there will be frustration from the airlines having to push back their returns. The pandemic has forced them to suspend key routes for several months. Even though the door is slightly open now, there are still several factors to consider when it comes to the feasibility of running a smooth operation.
What are your thoughts on the two carriers extending their Hong Kong flight suspensions? Were you planning to fly on these routes soon? Let us know what you think of the change of plan in the comment section.