FedEx, Washington hit out at Hong Kong's difficult quarantine rules
THE US Department of Transportation (DoT) may limit flights by the Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific in response to the territory's latest quarantine rules, saying they disproportionately affect US carriers, reports London's Air Cargo News
21 March 2021 - 19:00
The DoT has since ordered all Hong Kong-based carriers to file their flight schedules for all US flights within seven days, for the department to consider 'the operation of the services contained in those schedules, or any part thereof, may be contrary to applicable law or adversely affect the public interest'.
The new quarantine rules require that all Hong Kong-based crews quarantine for two or three weeks when returning from an international flight. However, Anchorage, where Cathay Pacific has a large transshipment operation, was exempt from the requirement, a move that sparked a complaint from FedEx and a response from the DoT.
FedEx says it has 180 crew members in Hong Kong and that the new quarantine requirement would make it impossible to maintain its Hong Kong crew base, which serves as a 'critical hub in its intra-Asia network'.
FedEx relocated all of its Hong Kong-based crews to San Francisco, a move it said would incur significant operational costs and personal burden on its Hong Kong crew members.
In response, the DoT said: 'Cathay Pacific operates a large transshipment operation at Anchorage; it conducts multiple daily all-cargo operations between Hong Kong and Anchorage that connect to other Cathay flights between Anchorage and points throughout the continental US.
'This carve out effectively provides Cathay Pacific with the ability to continue those operations without impact from the new crew quarantine requirements. Meanwhile, FedEx's Hong Kong-based crews serve only intra-Asia routings and therefore do not benefit from the Anchorage exception,' noted the DoT.
The DoT said it had been in contact with Hong Kong authorities, but the two had failed to come to an agreement.
Cathay Pacific told London's FlightGlobal that it will 'continue to comply with all the applicable aviation regulations in both Hong Kong and the territories to which we fly'.
The carrier added that it had also been affected by the new air crew quarantine measures, which have led to a reduction in cargo flights to the US from the usual 35-39 flights a week, to 21-28 flights.
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