Who will kill Cathay Pacific?

Like its competitors, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific has been hit hard by the COVID crisis, and even harder. While the government’s health measures raise questions about the airline’s long-term viability, they are not the only reason to worry about its future.

Cathay hard hit by health restrictions

Honk Kong was one of the places where sanitary measures were the most violent, as part of a “zero COVID” strategy.

Flight restrictions and quarantine periods were among the strictest in the world, virtually eliminating the national airline’s ability to operate. Today, Cathay is operating at just 2% of its pre-pandemic capacity, light years ahead of the recovery, however imperfect, seen in Europe and the United States.

At one point, the airline even considered relocating its pilots to Los Angeles, in view of the 21-day quarantine imposed on anyone re-entering the country.

More recently, the authorization given to flight crews to isolate themselves at home instead of quarantining in a dedicated area has been abolished, and the duration of quarantine has been increased. Added to this is the recently enacted flight ban covering 150 countries where Omnicron is most virulent.

At this stage, the question of the airline’s survival clearly needs to be raised, as the country has become inaccessible to foreigners, and the sanitary conditions for its staff impossible to work in.

So we can also assume that the public authorities will do everything in their power to save the airline, given the exceptional circumstances. But nothing is less certain!

China’s political game in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s return to the Chinese fold did not go smoothly, due to the central government’s determination to bring the former British colony back into line. Proof of this are the numerous demonstrations against restrictions on rights and attacks on freedom of expression.

Cathay is the symbol of this capitalist, triumphant, liberal, open and Western-oriented Hong Kong, and its hub, before the pandemic, a central platform for regional air transport. The disappearance of Cathay would open the door to domination of Hong Kong by China’s national airlines, a step which the Chinese government’s behavior leads us to believe will be easily taken.

Bottom line

Deeply affected by the consequences of the COVID crisis, Cathay Pacific is in a more than worrying state. And there’s no evidence of any real political will to save it.

Image : Cathay Pacific A350 by JIMMOYHT via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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