The number of flights will remain relatively the same until the Christmas and New Year holidays despite aircrew being exempted from hotel quarantine and allowed to undergo just a three-day medical surveillance from Saturday, an airlines union says.
Li Wing-foo, chairman of the Staffs and Workers Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines, said on radio yesterday that airlines have more flexibility in allocating manpower under the new arrangement, but not many flights can be added immediately as it is not a peak season.
“The number of flights is increasing gradually because airlines are facing manpower shortages and may not have enough staff for so many flights,” Li said.
“A gradual increase will allow both airlines and aircrew to better adapt to the change in the number of flights.”
He said many aviation workers have changed fields during the pandemic and do not want to come back to the industry due to the uncertainties of the job.
“The recruitment situation of airlines is not so good as not many people have applied for jobs. We tried recruiting people through large-scale job fairs but the response was not as good as pre-pandemic level,” Li said.
The government announced on Friday that locally based aircrew on flights to and from overseas countries and Taiwan could observe three-day medical surveillance at home after testing negative at the airport upon arrival.
Meanwhile, around 1.2 percent of overseas travelers tested positive for Covid in the first three days after they landed in Hong Kong, according to statistics after the “3+4” quarantine arrangement was implemented last month.
That worked out to 1,450 out of 117,000 inbound travelers. And it is much lower than the 3 percent local infection rate in the past month with about 225,000 people infected.
University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said the city can cancel hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals now as the rate of positive travelers is low. But another health expert, Leung Chi-chiu, said we should wait some more.