'A significant step': Major airline resumes flights to New Zealand

Author
Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Nov 2020, 2:02PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'A significant step': Major airline resumes flights to New Zealand

Author
Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Nov 2020, 2:02PM

Cathay Pacific will resume flights between Hong Kong and Auckland with two services a week starting Friday, November 27.

The airline describes it as a small but potentially significant step and the announcement comes following the establishment of a full quarantine-free travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore.

Cathay's Auckland flights are in addition to the Air New Zealand operated codeshare flights which will continue to work with Cathay Pacific to operate three flights-per-week in November and two flights-per-week in December.

Stringent testing and quarantine requirements remain at each end of the flights.

Cathay Pacific regional general manager – South West Pacific Rakesh Raicar said: "I'm thrilled to be able to share some positive news on the return of Cathay Pacific to New Zealand skies. Although far from business as usual, I'm pleased to say our return is a small but significant step."

Exporters will also welcome the flights as freight space out of New Zealand will be tight this summer.

The airline had been operating two flights a day to Auckland as well as Christchurch services during last summer, before the pandemic struck.

Passengers flying into Auckland on the new flights will need to abide by New Zealand border controls, including reserving and securing their place in a managed isolation facility before they board their flight as part of the New Zealand Government's Managed Isolation Allocation System.

Kiwis travelling to Hong Kong undergo a saliva test for Covid-19 on arrival and are required to submit the health declaration result to the staff of the Department of Health.

"Depending on the situation of the travellers, they will receive corresponding arrangements," the Hong Kong government's website says.

"The Government adopts a risk-based approach to decide appropriate quarantine premises [such as home, hotels or other premises] for different groups of inbound travellers."

Cathay Pacific has been forced to ground much of its fleet.  Photo / AP

Cathay Pacific has been forced to ground much of its fleet. Photo / AP

Cathay Pacific says face coverings will be mandatory on the flights, which will be on a Boeing 777-300.

"We've adjusted meal preparation and service, blocked seating where possible, brought in health screening and temperature checks as well as equipped counters and common areas with an antimicrobial coating to provide an invisible barrier against viruses and bacteria," said Raicar.

He said the airline was proud of cleanliness of its aircraft and had been recognised by Skytrax as one of the world's top ten cleanest airlines for five years in a row.

With reliance on international flights, Cathay Pacific has been rocked by the pandemic and has cut its workforce by a quarter or close to 8500 around the world and killed off its regional carrier, Dragon.

Before Covid-19, it had been hit by a downturn in demand due to civil unrest in Hong Kong.

But Cathay - and Singapore Airlines - got some good news this week with the announcement of a quarantine-free travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore from November 22. Both city states have had relatively low levels of community transmission of Covid and have strict health protocols in place.

Travellers from Singapore to Hong Kong need a Covid-19 test before and after flying. Those flying from Hong Kong to Singapore will only need to have a test before departure