Hong Kong has called on the Japanese government to lift ‘discriminative’ pandemic flight restrictions that were imposed following a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections on the Chinese mainland.
Tokyo has responded to Beijing’s abandonment of its ‘Zero Covid’ strategy by capping passenger numbers, restricting entry points and requiring all passengers arriving from China to take a COVID-19 test.
The rules for travellers from Hong Kong aren’t quite as stringent but airlines have been barred from increasing flight numbers beyond what they were already flying in the week of 23-29 December.
In the case of Hong Kong’s largest airline Cathay Pacific, the airline said on Thursday that it would be restricted to operating 65 flights per week between Hong Kong and Japan.
Following high-level diplomatic negotiations, however, Japan will no longer restrict flights from Hong Kong to just four designated airports where enhanced passenger screening will take place.
Airlines will still be able to operate to all other points in Japan on the proviso that travellers who have been in the Chinese mainland within the last seven days are not onboard.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it “has been proactively liaising with the Japanese authorities and seriously requesting the Japanese authorities to rescind the restrictions concerned.”
The statement continued, saying the government “considers that the restriction on flights departing from Hong Kong is unreasonable and has requested the Japanese authorities to withdraw the restriction.”
A spokesperson said the Hong Kong government “will continue to request the Japanese authorities to rescind all discriminative restrictions on passenger flights departing from Hong Kong.”
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.