Cathay Pacific to comply with Hong Kong probes into Covid-19 outbreak

Two crew members who broke self-isolation rules, sparking a Covid-19 outbreak in the city, were fired. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways will comply with two government investigations after two crew members who broke self-isolation rules sparked a Covid-19 outbreak in the city, chairman Patrick Healy said.

In a video to staff on Tuesday (Jan 11) reviewed by Reuters, Mr Healy said the airline apologised for the "disruption and anguish" caused by the outbreak, which has led Hong Kong to shut primary schools and set back plans for cross-border travel with mainland China.

Cathay Pacific has fired the crew members involved.

The video came after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday announced the government was investigating the breach of isolation rules as well as Cathay Pacific carrying crew returning to Hong Kong on cargo-only flights to avoid hotel quarantine.

Mr Healy said the airline took "full responsibility" for the latter decision, which it was confident was in line with government regulations.

The city tightened quarantine rules for air crew after the outbreak, leading the airline to cancel most of its planned passenger and cargo flights in January.

Cathay Pacific will operate about 20 per cent of its pre-pandemic cargo capacity and around 2 per cent of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity this month.

The airline had been struggling to crew many flights even before the rules were tightened, as some destinations relied on pilots volunteering to fly punishing rosters involving five weeks locked in hotel rooms.

Mr Healy said crew had collectively spent 62,000 nights in quarantine hotels in 2021, with none contracting Covid-19 in the first eight months of the year. All are fully vaccinated.

Cases, however, had risen since the emergence of the Omicron variant, with 11 crew members contracting the variant in December, he said in the video to staff that was first reported by Bloomberg.

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