With airline crews and pilots travelling the world keeping aircraft in the skies during the Coronavirus Pandemic, testing amongst both pilots and flight attendants has sharply increased with carriers offering voluntary, and in some cases mandatory, Covid-19 testing to their staff. One such carrier, Cathay Pacific, reported this Saturday (25 July 2020) that despite 3,200 tests on staff, not a single one had come back positive for Coroanvirus.
Cathay Pacific & the Hong Kong restrictions
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, and has their hub situated in Hong Kong International Airport; The airline operates a fleet of 131 exclusively widebody aircraft – of both Airbus and Boeing type – with more than 33 orders outstanding. Being situated as a neighbour to China, Hong Kong has long been at significant threat to the spread of the novel Coronavirus. After successful containment for the past few months, Hong Kong is slowly beginning to report higher-than-average case numbers: 123 new cases on Friday 24 July – an increase of 118 cases from Thursday 23 July.
To help curb the spread of the Coronavirus, there is now a mandatory Covid-19 test on arrival to Hong Kong and a 14-day indisputable quarantine period for all (though special exemptions have been put into place for air and sea crews) Local Media reports suggest this exemption may be a loophole of the system, and be allowing Covid Positive crews into Hong Kong, infecting locals.
Cathay Pacific’s hits back at exemption claims
In a statement released to the media, Cathay Pacific’s Chief Operations Officer, Greg Hughes said:
““Since April, more than 3,200 voluntary and mandatory tests have been taken by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon pilots and cabin crew. None of these has come back positive, and none of our operating crew has been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. This demonstrates that our aircrew are extremely diligent when it comes to adhering to social distancing rules and protecting themselves. Throughout the COVID-19 period our crew have acted with the highest levels of safety, compliance and professionalism,”
A spokesperson for the Hong Kong Government also downplayed these local reports of crews infecting locals, adding that majority of these imported cases were from Hong Kong residents returning from foreign countries. In one such case, 26 passengers from an Emirates Flight tested positive for Coronavirus on arrival to Hong Kong.
Despite this, Cathay Pacific have said they will continue to put non Hong Kong based crew in designated hotels during their stay in the country, and remind them of the need to practice social distancing measures and wear a face mask when in public.
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