According to Bloomberg, Hong Kong has been suspended as an international aviation hub since it curbed inbound flights and quarantined arriving passengers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the International Air Transport Association (IATA) director-general Willie Walsh said on April 6, Hong Kong airport is “effectively off the map now.”
While most of the globe has freed up and resumed quarantine-free foreign travel, Hong Kong has kept some of the tightest travel restrictions following mainland China’s “dynamic zero-Covid” strategy.
Walsh said the city’s travel restrictions had made it “extremely difficult, if not impossible,” for airlines to function.
He added, “Hong Kong as an international hub airport has slipped. It is effectively off the map now and I think it is going [to] be difficult for Hong Kong to recover.”
Asked if Hong Kong would review its flight restrictions, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the bans were due to a “very relaxed approach” from other nations, resulting in three or more positive cases among passengers on flights.
Lam said, “We have to understand what has happened leading to these route-specific flight suspensions that we have to impose upon airlines under the current policy.”
Since April 1, Hong Kong has relaxed its restrictions. Notably, they reduced suspensions from 14 days to seven days for flights found to be carrying infected passengers. They also lifted a ban on nine nations while hotel quarantine for Hong Kong citizens was halved from 14 to seven days.
The IATA director-general said this relaxed approach to the hotel quarantine period was insufficient to prevent the aviation hub’s isolation from the rest of the world.
Apart from its loss of hub status, Hong Kong also bears the outflow of foreign businesses and workforce.
The European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong on March 25 released a survey with 260 respondents from the business community. 25% of them affirm that they would entirely relocate from Hong Kong in the next 12 months, and 24% plan to move partially. Only 17% said that they did not have any relocation plans, while the rest, 34%, were unsure.