Flights to Hong Kong dwindle as departures reach pre-pandemic highs

Flights to Hong Kong dwindle as departures reach pre-pandemic highs
People holding umbrellas line up in the rain at a testing site for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hong Kong, China February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

The backstory:

  • Hong Kong is a huge travel and business hub, one of the main ones in Asia – if not the main one.
  • When the pandemic started, the whole world was thrown into chaos. However, as it’s progressed, many developed nations have decided to live with the virus, while Hong Kong has adopted a zero-COVID-19 approach.
  • This has led to Hong Kong becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world and put it on the receiving end of quite a bit of scrutiny, especially from the business community, labeling the approach unsustainable and impractical.
  • Hong Kong is now in the middle of its fifth wave, seeing case numbers top 7,000. The city has also imposed some of its harshest social distancing rules yet in an attempt to contain the outbreak.
  • Part of the rules when it comes to travelers, though, is that those who fly in from countries where the city is accepting flights will need to quarantine in a designated hotel for two to three weeks.
  • There is also currently a flight ban on nine countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, which has been extended until April 20.

The development:

  • Before the pandemic, Hong Kong saw around 14,000 flights departing the city every month. The airport was pretty much as busy as John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) airport in New York, with a passenger plane leaving every few minutes.
  • As reported by Bloomberg News, according to aviation data and analytics company Cirium, airlines are planning for only 592 flights out of Hong Kong for February – an average of only 21 a day.
  • On the other hand, departures have reached their highest levels since the pandemic started. Government data shows that a net of 21,698 people left the city last week, compared with 11,461 in the same week of 2021.

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