British Airways suspends flights to Hong Kong due to reports of more crew members being quarantined in government centres.
BA said it temporarily suspended flights, “while our operational requirements are reviewed for this route.”
South China Morning Post reports that one BA employee had test positive for Covid. This led to crew members being sent straight to the quarantine camp.
The incident follows one that happened the week prior.
The virus was detected in the case by a BA pilot who tested positive on November 20th. Both the pilot and his crew were considered “close contacts” by BA. The two of them were sent to Hong Kong’s Penny’s Bay quintetine center.
The South China Morning Post was informed by a spokesperson from Hong Kong’s Department of Health that the crew members were now back in the UK.
This comes amid concerns about Omicron, a new Covid variant – Omicron cases have been found in several places such as the UK and Hong Kong.
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BA commented on recent actions against its crew and said, “We support crews who are currently isolated in Hong Kong.”
We adhere to all local laws in every country that we fly, and we always ensure the safety and well-being of both our customers and employees.
Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong-based airline had to cancel some passengers flights because of staff shortages. Closed loop means that airline staff, who are working in three-weekly shifts, have to stay at their hotels during flights. They then go into quarantine for 14 days when they return home.
Hong Kong pursues a zero Covid case policy to open its borders with mainland China.
BA stated: “We apologize to our customers for having their travel plans interrupted and will be in touch with them to offer options.”
BA’s suspension of Hong Kong flight operations follows a temporary halt to air travel in six countries of southern Africa following the Omicron discovery.
After the government banned travel from South Africa and Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho temporarily, both Virgin Atlantic and BA cancelled their flights on Friday at midday and Sunday at 04:00.
These countries, along with Angola and Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Mozambique, Mozambique, and Zambia, were included in the UK’s Travel Red List at 4:00 on Sunday.
These people will be denied entry to the UK if they are not British or Irish citizens or UK residents.
For a period of 10 days, travelers will need to self-isolate at a pre-booked hotel approved by the government.
A government announcement has made clear that all fully vaccinated individuals who travel to England for the first time must undergo a PCR test within the first day.
Sajid Javid, Health Secretary to the BBC, stated that the measures will be in effect from Tuesday 30 November at 04:00.
‘A huge blow’
Omicron was identified by the World Health Organization as a “variant in concern”. It is unclear if it is susceptible to vaccines and how transmissible.
- Omicron: New Covid variant: Are new Omicron measures possible?
A spokesperson from ABTA, the trade association for the travel industry, stated that they “understand that this is a rapidly evolving environment and public health must first.”
However, it stated that the decision to make all travelers take a PCR test before self-isolating until a negative result was returned would be a major blow to many travel companies who were still struggling to recover from 20 months of harsh restrictions.
Friday’s emergence of Covid caused shares to plummet in companies such as IAG (BA’s parent) and EasyJet (a holiday company Carnival and TUI), as well as airlines like BA, EasyJet and IAG. Concerns that Omicron might hinder economic recovery caused stock markets around the globe to fall.
Caroline Davies is the BBC’s business correspondent
The travel companies spent Saturday night and Sunday answering calls from concerned customers all over the globe, in an effort to determine if they will need a DNA test upon arrival in the UK.
Many people in the sector are disappointed that the announcement of the policy did not include a date and gave them very little information to relay to passengers.
Bookings are also a concern. One industry representative stated that this “just turns off the tap” and the public is less likely to make bookings abroad.
Not only is the travel industry concerned.
Hospitality worries that changes to the Christmas season might also impact the consumer’s confidence.
The time is crucial for booking summer holidays. Holiday bookings are often lower at this point in the year. The industry is in uncertainty until the three-week-long government review.
ABTA stated that the requirement for airline passengers to undergo a PCR testing on the second day of their arrival is a decision that should be carefully reviewed. If it turns out there are no risks to the UK’s vaccination program, the measures can be quickly removed.
They also stated that the government had to now think about offering support tailored for travel businesses. These were the ones most severely affected during the pandemic.
Ryanair and EasyJet have been cutting thousands of jobs since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. Rolls-Royce (which makes plane engines) announced that last year it was going to axe 9,000 employees.
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