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Hong Kong Will Allow Transit Passengers to Connect Through its International Airport from June 1

Hong Kong Will Allow Transit Passengers to Connect Through its International Airport from June 1

Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced Tuesday that transit passengers would once again be allowed to connect through the city’s international airport in a move that signifies a major easing of tough COVID-19 protection measures. The current restrictions will be lifted June 1 but non-Hong Kong residents will still be barred from entering Hong Kong for the foreseeable future.

The decision in early April to ban transit passengers as part of efforts to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus resulted in a 99.5 per cent drop in passenger numbers using Hong Kong International Airport. In April, the airport handled just 32,000 passengers over the entire month after already being hit hard by a slump in travel demand because of the pandemic and protest activity that dampened demand throughout 2019.

Carrie Lam’s announcement comes less than a week after another regional aviation hub announced its own plans to permit transit passengers once again. Singapore said foreign passengers would be allowed to connect through Changi International Airport from June 2 as part of the government’s strategy to gradually re-open air transport.

In a statement, Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority said airlines would first have to submit proposals for “transfer lanes” through the airport before being allowed to handle transit passengers.

For the time being, only permanent residents will be allowed entry into Hong Kong. Arriving residents are subject to a COVID-19 test and mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Hong Kong’s home carrier Cathay Pacific could be set to massively benefit from this decision to allow transit passengers because the city is not subject to the so-called ‘Five-One’ restrictions imposed by mainland Chinese authorities. As part of measures to prevent a second wave of COVID-19, all other airlines are only permitted to operate just one international flight a week from each country they serve to the Chinese mainland.