Hong Kong requests Japan to drop airport bans affecting 60,000 travelers

Hong Kong requests Japan to drop airport bans affecting 60,000 travelers

Hong Kong has requested Japan to revoke a COVID-19 constraint that allows passenger flights from the financial hub to land only at four designated airports, saying the decision would affect about 60,000 passengers.

India, Italy, Taiwan, and the United States require mandatory COVID-19 tests on travelers from China after Beijing’s decision last month to lift stringent zero-COVID policies that fuelled a surge in infections across mainland China.

Hong Kong, home to over 7 million people, records around 20,000 coronavirus cases daily but lifted its COVID curbs on Thursday for the first time in three years.

Japan, a top travel destination for those in Hong Kong, said it would limit flights from Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China to Tokyo’s two airports and Osaka and Nagoya from Friday.

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The decision comes during a peak travel season ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on January 21.

“It is understood that around 250 outbound flights of Hong Kong airlines will be affected between December 30, 2022, and the end of January 2023, affecting around 60,000 passengers,” the government said in a statement late on Wednesday.

City leader John Lee said the government had indicated to Japan that it was disappointed.

“We think Hong Kong people should be allowed to use not just these four airports,” Lee said.

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s government said Japan would let passenger flights from Hong Kong also land in Hokkaido, Fukuoka, and Okinawa provided that no passengers aboard had been in mainland China for the last seven days, but said the condition was “unreasonable.”

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Flights of Hong Kong airlines can still carry passengers back to Hong Kong from airports in Japan, the government said, to ensure their smooth return and “minimize the impact to Hong Kong travelers caused by the incident.”

In a statement, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways (0293. HK) said it would continue to operate flights to Japan, although it would reduce these to 65 a week, down 20% from its planned schedule for Jan 2023.

HK Express, which Cathay owns, said in a separate statement it would only be able to operate 60 scheduled flights a week to destinations in Japan due to the curbs, prompting the cancellation of 41 flights from Hong Kong to Japan in January.

Hong Kong Airlines and Peach Aviation said they would cancel some flight routes because of the rules.

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Benjamin is an all-around geek who loves learning new stuff every day. With a background in computer science and a passion for web-based technologies and gadgets and focus on writing about Web Trends, Smartphones, and Tablets.