Hong Kong has cancelled its controversial policy of banning airlines that carry too many Covid-19 positive passengers as its new administration scrambles to restore the Chinese territory’s status as a financial centre.
The flight ban mechanism, which banned airlines from landing in Hong Kong if five or more people or more than 5% of passengers tested positive upon arrival, has been suspended “until further notice”.
The ban has been imposed more than 100 times, with Cathay Pacific being subjected to 21 bans. Two popular Gulf-based carriers also suffered, with Emirates banned 11 times and Qatar Airways 10 times.
Shares of Cathay Pacific rose 2.8% on Thursday.
“The mechanism has affected thousands of arrivals … with a very heavy social cost,” the Centre for Health Protection said. “It is also the peak season for overseas students returning to Hong Kong.”
The easing of travel restrictions came just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China.
John Lee, the territory’s new chief executive, said the government has been working on plans to shorten the seven-day quarantine period on arrival.
- George Russell