United, American Airlines extend suspension of Hong Kong flights

United Airlines planes parked at San Francisco International Airport on July 8, 2020.
United Airlines planes parked at San Francisco International Airport on July 8, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - United Airlines extended its suspension of flights to and from Hong Kong, citing new coronavirus testing protocols for crew arriving in the Asian financial hub, while American Airlines Group also cancelled plans to resume services from Dallas/Fort Worth.

Hong Kong updated its Covid-19 prevention and control measures this week, requiring all air crew members arriving at the city's airport starting on Wednesday (July 8) to provide throat saliva samples at a government facility nearby.

"UA877 was cancelled 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," United said in a statement referring to its flight due to depart San Francisco on Wednesday. HKG is the Asian city's airport code.

"We are currently assessing how this impacts our future operations," the airline said.

American's Flight 125 due to depart Dallas/Fort Worth on Thursday also was cancelled, according to its website.

The flights were due to be both airlines' first commercial passenger operations to the city since they suspended services in early February.

Hong Kong has become a focal point of increasingly frayed relations between the United States and China as Beijing moves ahead with national security legislation over the city, prompting the Trump administration to declare that Hong Kong no longer is sufficiently autonomous.

Hong Kong has reported an increase in coronavirus cases following an almost three-week lull, with the government warning that the city might be in the early days of a wider outbreak. Hong Kong has reported a total of 1,323 cases and seven deaths, while US infections and deaths stand at 3.1 million and more than 132,000, respectively.