DALLAS – China’s zero-COVID policy has caused Hong Kong to lose its status as a major aviation hub, according to IATA chief Willie Walsh, who also warned that if Beijing kept its restrictions in place next year, its aviation industry’s recovery from the pandemic will be hindered.
As the headquarters of flag carrier Cathay Pacific (CX), Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) has been for many years a major hub where travelers transit between international flights and on their way to China.
The IATA Director General claimed that China’s zero-COVID policy had “devastated” Hong Kong and severely harmed CX while speaking at an IATA conference in the Qatari capital Doha.
“Cathay Pacific is a shadow of its former self… Hong Kong has lost its position as a global hub and will struggle to regain it because other hubs have taken advantage of it,” said Walsh, blaming government policies, not the virus.
An Uneven Recovery
Over the northern hemisphere summer, the rate of the passenger demand recovery increased, with airline executives attributing the higher-than-anticipated demand to a surge in individuals eager to travel following two years of limitations.
However, the recovery has been uneven because China has continued to impose strict border and societal restrictions relating to COVID-19.
Walsh noted that there had previously been hopes for changes this year and that IATA was closely monitoring for any signs that China will loosen its restrictions.
Featured image: Cathay Pacific B-LXA Airbus A350-1041. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways