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Cathay says Hong Kong airport transit from June 1 excludes mainland flights

Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Saturday that the reopening of transit services for passengers at Hong Kong International Airport from June 1 will not include those traveling to and from mainland China.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced earlier this week that some transit passengers would be allowed through the hub from Monday, but did not provide further details. Transit through the airport has been barred since March 25 as part of measures taken to help control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cathay said travelers could transit Hong Kong if their itinerary was on a single booking and the connection time to the next flight was within eight hours.

“In this first phase, transiting to and from destinations in mainland China is not available,” the airline said on its website.

China’s aviation regulator has been flooded with tens of thousands of social media comments criticizing it and the Chinese government for the small number of flight options to bring home people stranded overseas.

The regulator drastically reduced the number of allowed international flights to prevent the potential of importing COVID-19 infections. Many foreign airlines are barred altogether and mainland carriers can fly just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any country, which has sent fares skyrocketing.

That rule does not apply to airlines from Hong Kong, such as Cathay, which are allowed more flights to and from the mainland, but the airline’s statement on Saturday indicated it cannot immediately take advantage of the boom in demand.

Cathay has cut capacity by around 97 percent due to a fall in demand and strict quarantine regulations associated with the pandemic.

Rival Asian hub Singapore, which is not allowed nearly as many mainland flights, is gradually allowing some transit traffic to resume from June 2.

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