FedEx, citing Covid-19 quarantine rules, to close crew base in Hong Kong

FedEx said it would continue delivery services as usual in Hong Kong but did not specify where its crew would move to. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (NYTIMES) - FedEx said on Wednesday (Nov 17) it would close its Hong Kong crew base and relocate its pilots, citing an evolving global business environment and strict pandemic requirements in the Asian financial hub.

FedEx said it would continue delivery services as usual in Hong Kong. It did not specify where its crew would move to.

The South China Morning Post, citing a FedEx memo, reported that the routes would be flown by staff based in Oakland, California, where 180 Hong Kong-based pilots had relocated early this year.

Hong Kong has been successful at controlling the spread of the coronavirus, with just 213 deaths in a city of 7½ million.

But the tough restrictions on travel have grated on many and spurred criticism from some businesses that rely on the swift movement of goods and people.

This week Hong Kong ordered 130 Cathay Pacific cargo pilots to undergo three weeks of quarantine because they had stayed at a hotel near Frankfurt where three crew members who tested positive for the coronavirus had also resided.

Mrs Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, acknowledged on Tuesday that the quarantine orders put strains on freight companies and highlighted the city's dependence on goods brought in from overseas and mainland China.

"If there are one or two more such incidents, our freight planes will have no pilots," she said on Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, Ms Tara Joseph, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said she was stepping down, a decision she partly attributed to the difficulties created by the city's coronavirus control measures.

This year, Mr Alan Beebe and Mr Ker Gibbs, the presidents of the American chambers of commerce in Beijing and Shanghai, said they were resigning from their roles.

Hong Kong's quarantine rules have weighed on global companies with a presence in the city.

The restrictions were making it hard to retain talent, Mr Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said this week during a short visit to the city. He was one of a small number of executives who have been granted a quarantine exemption.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.