Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, Cathay Pacific, has over 20 passenger flights into and out of Hong Kong for January 8 and 9 — almost double the number the airline planned to cut until the end of February 2024. This development comes after Cathay called off almost 70 flights during the recent Christmas and New Year break due to pilot shortage as a result of seasonal illness.

According to the Hong Kong International Airport website, the airline cancelled 12 departures and nine arrivals on January 9, mostly between the SAR and Narita, Kaohsiung, Bangkok, Qingdao, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and Singapore. However, Cathay will combine some flights in an effort to reduce inconvenience to passengers.

In a statement, Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Ronald Lam maintained that flights will be unaffected during the Lunar New Year holidays, saying, “We have taken measures to ensure Cathay Pacific’s flights will operate normally for the coming Chinese New Year travel peak. Hong Kong people travelling out and visitors coming to Hong Kong can be reassured that their travel will go ahead as planned.”

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee addresses Cathay Pacific flight cancellations during a press conference on January 9, 2024.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee expressed his concerns about the situation by saying, “We asked the carrier [Cathay Pacific] that passengers affected will see their loss and inconvenience minimised. They should divert passengers to other flights or even other airlines if necessary.”

The CE also acknowledged the post-pandemic challenges airlines are facing, but urged the city’s aviation industry to overcome them “very quickly and very effectively” so that “capacity is rebuilt as quickly as possible”. 

“We need greater efforts, both short-term and long-term. The Transport and Logistics Bureau will be in contact with the management of Cathay Pacific to indicate our goals and see how we can work together to ensure the best services are provided to passengers,” said Lee.

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Header image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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