HONG KONG (AFP) – Cathay Pacific said its crews spent a combined total of 73,000 nights in quarantine last year as the airline struggles to keep flying through Hong Kong’s strict zero-COVID controls.
The city government said the carrier faces possible legal action over an outbreak of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that began with two aircrew breaking home quarantine rules, and has forced a tightening of social distancing measures.
An ongoing government investigation is the latest setback for Cathay Pacific, which has been battered by the pandemic and seen rising anger from pilots and crew over Hong Kong’s virus controls.
Chairman Patrick Healy sent a video message to all staff on Tuesday, thanking them for the sacrifices they have made during measures that often leave them separated from families for weeks.
“What you have been through during the past two years is quite simply unparallelled,” he said.
“Collectively, our crew spent over 62,000 nights in quarantine hotels in 2021, in addition over 1,000 of you have spent more than 11,000 nights in Penny’s Bay,” he added, referring to Hong Kong’s government quarantine camp.
Healy argued that a “tiny minority” of rule-breakers should not overshadow Cathay Pacific’s contributions to Hong Kong and that he believed the airline’s crew arrangements were in line with government policy.