IATA: China’s COVID-19 Policy Continues To Hinder Hong Kong

Hong Kong last month dropped a mandatory hotel quarantine for arriving passengers.

Credit: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong (HKG) will be unable to recover as long as China restricts flights and travel even though the city has moved to ease its own COVID-19 restrictions, according to IATA.

Hong Kong late last month ended the mandatory 3-day hotel quarantine required of all arriving passengers—a move welcomed by Cathay Pacific, which has been severely hampered by the territory's strict COVID-19 rules. 

While most major Asian economies, such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, have relaxed border restrictions, China has continued with a zero-COVID policy that is unlikely to change in the near future. “Hong Kong is so intertwined with China. [HKG’s] recovery will be a stretch without China,” IATA regional VP for Asia-Pacific Philip Goh told Aviation Week Network. “The later China opens, the worse it is for Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific.”

HKG received a blow when Virgin Atlantic announced earlier this month that it will permanently drop Hong Kong from its network. Goh said Virgin is looking to allocate resources to other opportunities and markets rather than one that is not fully opened.

Vinoop Goel, IATA’s Asia-Pacific regional director of airports and external relations, said China’s reopening will likely be a phased process and could also be limited to certain regions and cities, which would complicate an air traffic recovery. 

IATA is encouraging airports across the region to make sure they have enough staff to handle air traffic for when China does open up.

Japan, meanwhile, reopened its borders from Oct. 11 and reintroduced visa-free entry to passengers from dozens of countries. The country was one of the last to drop COVID-19 entry rules.