Hong Kong Airline Crews To Be Allowed Free Movement On Layovers

  • Asia Pacific Airlines, 2020 Loss, COVID-19

    Hong Kong International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    China (Special Administrative Region)

    Fred Lam

    Passenger Count :
    1,196,000 (2021)

    Runways :
    07R/25L – 3,800m (12,467ft) |07L/25R – 3,800m (12,467ft)

    Terminal 1 |Terminal 2

  • Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-367(ER) B-KPM

    Cathay Pacific

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hong Kong International Airport

    Year Founded:


    Augustus Tang

    China (Special Administrative Region)

After more than two years of strict regulations, the Hong Kong government partially scrapped its quarantine rules for locally-based airline crew in early September. Under the revision, local airline crews could return home after obtaining a negative test result upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport. And finally, on October 4th, the government will no longer restrict local airline crew movement when they serve overseas layovers.

No more hotel isolations

Before October 4th, locally-based airline crews were required to self-isolate in their respective hotels during layovers on their outbound and return legs of international flights. This has made crew rostering slightly more challenging for airlines and has become quite the restrictive norm for airline crew. Fortunately, airline crews are now free to roam and explore the sights of their layover city with the latest rule revision.


However, airline crews will still be expected to avoid bars and other events of mass gatherings. And for airline crews whose flights are returning to Hong Kong without a layover, the latest rule revision also ends the requirement for them only to be able to go home after a negative test result upon arrival. The test requirement will only extend to airline crews whose flights had layovers.

The revision allows Hong Kong-based airline crew to lead more normal lives, like going out immediately upon returning home, something they couldn’t do for so long. Photo: 
N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons

These changes apply significantly to several Hong Kong airliners, such as flag carrier Cathay Pacific and its low-cost subsidiary HK Express, Hong Kong Airlines, and Greater Bay Airlines, to name a few. With the latest revision, these airlines would have a more convenient time rostering crew rotations and allowing crews to take up more flights, as there is now hardly any mandatory downtime.

More airlines are coming back to Hong Kong

As Hong Kong continues easing pandemic-related restrictions for airline crew and passengers, the country has been seeing a significant surge in tourist demand, especially as the peak year-end holiday season approaches. Foreign carriers, such as Air France, British Airways, and Singapore Airlines, have been adding more flights to Hong Kong as they celebrate returning to a definite business and tourist hotspot destination without many restrictions.

The first British Airways direct flight from Hong Kong to London will take-off on December 10th, using its Boeing 787 aircraft fleet. The flight from Hong Kong will operate every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Air France will also restart flying from Hong Kong to Paris next year on January 3rd, serving flight services on a daily frequency.

Air France is expected to operate the Hong Kong-Paris route with its
Boeing 787-9
on the 13 hours and 15 minutes flight. Photo: Air France

Singapore Airlines, alongside its low-cost subsidiary Scoot, will gradually add more flights to meet the rising demand from Singapore to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific has also noted that flight bookings from Singapore to Hong Kong have multiplied since the relaxation for passengers was announced. Regional General Manager of Southeast Asia and Southwest Pacific for Cathay Pacific, Dominic Perret, said:

“We look forward to adding more flights to our Singapore schedule in the coming months so that more Hong Kong people can travel to the city-state and so that we can welcome more Singaporeans onboard, whether they are traveling to Hong Kong or beyond.”

Cathay Pacific prepares for a busy year-end

And besides a growing demand from Singapore, Cathay Pacific has also seen surging passenger demands from within the Asia-Pacific region. So far this month, the airline has added more than 200 pairs of commercially scheduled outbound from Hong Kong to regional destinations such as Seoul in Korea, Bangkok in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and Manila in the Philippines.

With Japan having also relaxed its restrictions, Cathay Pacific will increase passenger flights to Osaka to about 50 pairs this month. The airline will also restart daily flights to Tokyo/Narita from November 1st, with approximately 43 pairs. Then on December 1st, the oneworld alliance member will resume four-times weekly flights to Hokkaido/Sapporo.

Cathay Pacific enhances flight frequencies to Vancouver in Canada and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia for its
network. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Bottom line

After being stagnant much longer than most of the world, it’s great to see Hong Kong’s aviation industry begin to flourish progressively. While it will take some time before the country regains its well-connected and well-known international hub status, ensuring that Hong Kong airliners are on a steadier path of recovery is currently most important.

Especially for Cathay Pacific, considering the flag carrier has been unable to recover at least 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity, indicating quite an unfortunate downfall. Hopefully, with the increased flight schedules and through catering to the anticipated demand, Hong Kong and its aviation industry can finally end this year thriving more than it ever did for the past two years.

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Source: Bloomberg

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