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Commentary: Hong Kong’s travel restrictions are destroying its airport’s competitive edge

LONDON: Hong Kong’s airport has been a spooky place by way of a lot of the pandemic as traveller numbers have dwindled, leaving cavernous arrival halls devoid of their traditional bustle.

The remainder of the world is now opening as much as worldwide travel however in Hong Kong, which has a few of the toughest COVID-19 quarantines on this planet, the airport stays largely empty of incoming passengers.

The metropolis has for a few years claimed the title of the busiest airport in Asia and is ready up as an important air bridge to the remainder of the Asia Pacific for these coming from Europe, and a passage for enterprise travellers into south China, the nation’s financial nucleus.

But final Tuesday, when chief Carrie Lam mentioned that the ban on flights from 9 nations would keep till a minimum of April 20, a now-unremarkable trickle of 229 passengers arrived, down from the everyday tens of hundreds each day earlier than the pandemic.


The native authorities says that the isolation is important because it races to regulate an Omicron outbreak and preserve the town according to Beijing’s zero-COVID coverage, however airline bosses in Asia mentioned that the measures are not solely having a disastrous influence on enterprise.

“A lot of airlines are thinking very hard about the future for Hong Kong — do we still need to fly to Hong Kong?” a North American airline government mentioned, including that it was changing into “career suicide” to proceed to advocate their head workplace for flights to be despatched to the Asian monetary hub.

“I’m quite worried Singapore will replace Hong Kong not just as a financial centre but also as an aviation centre,” the chief mentioned, pointing to Singapore Airlines’ transfer late final yr so as to add new routes, together with to Vancouver and Seattle.



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