Successful flight and hotel room bookings are only the beginning of inbound Hong Kong travelers’ worries. The next step is hoping their flight actually follows through. Airline routes may suddenly face a seven-day suspension if three or more passengers on the same flight are found to be infected with COVID or if some don’t have the required documents. And when that happens, inbound travelers have to scramble, often spending even more money on other travel options. But because of these restrictions, rival hubs like Singapore and Seoul have benefited in return.
“We picked up a lot of freight business from them, and I don’t know if they could ever recover from this because a lot of people are actually avoiding Hong Kong now,” said Walter Cho, referring to Korean Air profiting from Hong Kong’s slumping flight numbers.
“It’s effectively off the map now, and I think it’s going to be difficult for Hong Kong to recover,” Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said at a briefing. “It’s going to lag significantly behind the recovery that we’re seeing elsewhere and has led to a tough time for all airlines operating there.”