Volunteer flight attendants at Cathay Pacific will work for 21-days in a row and then spend the next 14-days in mandatory hotel quarantine as part of the Hong Kong-based airline’s extreme measures to avoid tough new isolation rules that have been imposed on both foreign and local aircrew.
Pilots and flight attendants will remain in quarantine during any downtime in Hong Kong during the 21-day work period. They have also been told to avoid stepping foot outside any hotels they are staying in during layovers in countries with looser restrictions.
The so-called ‘closed loop’ flying programme has been dreamt up to get around tough new quarantine rules introduced by the Hong Kong government that requires aircrew arriving in the territory from abroad to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Flight attendants will work flights to and from Hong Kong during a 21-day period and during any downtime in the territory, they’ll quarantine at the Headland Hotel which is located next door to Hong Kong International Airport. The hotel is owned by Cathay Pacific and is maintained for the exclusive use by airline staff.
Once the 21-day roster of flights is complete, flight attendants will then spend the next 14-days in a separate hotel away from operating crew. In total, crew will be separated from their friends and family for 35 days. During this time, they will have very little contact with the outside world aside from when interacting with passengers.
Cathay Pacific has slashed the number of flights it plans to operate over the next month due to the pressure that the restrictions will have on crew. The airline will maintain key connections to Australia, Europe and the United States but flight schedules will remain severely limited until the quarantine rules are eased.
Cathay Pacific does, however, plan to maintain a more normal operation between Hong Kong and China and Taiwan because the quarantine rules do not apply to arrivals from these two destinations.
“We thank the many pilots and cabin crew who have volunteered to undertake the ‘closed loop’ flying and quarantine arrangement. Their professionalism and commitment are deeply appreciated,” commented Cathay Pacific’s chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.
“As long as stringent quarantine measures continue to be in place in Hong Kong and elsewhere, the coming months will be extremely challenging,” he continued. “Our ability to adapt quickly will be key to our business and we will remain agile in adjusting our network plan in accordance with market demand.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.