A tourism sector lawmaker has hit out at the government's refusal to change criteria for suspending flights, saying it troubles passengers and does not help the fight against the pandemic.
Currently, an airline has to suspend flights of a specific route for two weeks if several Covid
-19 cases are identified on the same flight. Starting April 1, the suspension period will be halved to seven days.
The suspension is triggered when on the same flight there are three or more passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus
by arrival test, or if one passenger tested positive and another failed to comply with health requirements specified under Cap. 599H Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation.
Speaking on a radio program, tourism sector lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung said the new mechanism did not relax the criterion for triggering flight suspension – three passengers testing positive. It made it difficult for airlines to offer stable services.
"Once the mechanism is triggered, returning travelers have to re-book their tickets and quarantine hotels,” Yiu said.
He argued the flight suspension policy serves little purpose, as all returning Hongkongers must have completed vaccination and test negative before their return.
"Even if they were infected after coming back, they would have relatively mild illnesses and pose little impact on the local healthcare system."
Yiu suggested the government review the criteria for triggering flight suspension, to make it a percentage instead of an absolute number.
"For example, flight suspension can be triggered when 10 percent or more of passengers onboard are confirmed with the coronavirus
,” he suggested.