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Asia Minute: This could be the world’s most challenged airline

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Airline travel is continuing to pick up here in Hawaiʻi and in many other parts of the world. Several airlines are facing staffing issues — but there’s one location where complications have hit a new level.

Cathay Pacific has a 75-year history in Hong Kong — but this is turning out to be one of the most challenging years the airline has ever faced.

The BBC reports that starting Wednesday, crew members returning from international layovers have to “avoid unnecessary social contact” for three weeks — while getting COVID tests every single day.

For the first three days after landing, they have to stay home for at least 22 hours a day — only going out to get food and medical supplies, deal with that daily COVID testing, or exercise alone — outside.

Earlier this month, three pilots with layovers in Frankfurt tested positive for the virus — forcing every crew member who had a layover in Frankfurt around that time into isolation at a government quarantine facility.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said this has “already greatly affected Hong Kong’s cargo logistics” — adding that “if there were one or two more of these cases, our cargo planes will probably be left with no more pilots.”

The Financial Times reports the situation has gotten so bad that Cathay is now considering having its Hong Kong-based employees live outside the city for two to four months — to avoid some of the tightest virus-related restrictions in the world.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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