American Airlines and United Airlines Cancel Their Hong Kong Flights Due To Crew Testing Requirement

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American Airlines and United Airlines have both announced cancellations of their Hong Kong flights again as the country now requires that all crew members are tested for Covid-19.

Except the Quarantine requirement this would place passengers and crew on the same level as far as the preventive measures against coronavirus goes and airlines (or unions) decided that would be a no go.

Both Airlines were supposed to resume their Hong Kong flights this coming week have now cancelled flights to Hong Kong while evaluating the situation pending further scheduling decisions.

As CNN reported the reason for the cancellations are the testing requirements for crew members.

US airlines are canceling flights to and from Hong Kong after the city said it would require all crew members to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival.

American Airlines (AAL), which had been scheduled to resume flights from Dallas to Hong Kong on Thursday, will now restart on August 5.

“We’ve been making regular adjustments to our schedule to match demand, and we consider a range of factors including travel restrictions or entry requirements in making network decisions,” the airline said in a statement.

United Airlines (UAL) said it would suspend flights scheduled through Friday while it assesses how the new tests will affect its operations.

The changes follow the announcement earlier this week that crew members would be required to submit deep throat saliva samples at Hong Kong International Airport. Crew members are currently exempt from a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

It’s not mentioned in the article but I could very well imagine that crew members have expressed displeasure about this to their unions which then pressured management to put the plans to resume flights to Hong Kong on hold. And this time I’d totally side with the crew because it’s one thing to get the test for personal reasons but to submit to it because of a work related layover?

What happens if someone tests positive, even if the test is a false-positive? Hospitalization of the crew member?

So far crew has been exempt from these tests and quarantine measures. I can see both sides of the argument. It doesn’t make sense to exempt crew members from tests if they are ending up staying in local hotels where they have inevitably contact with staff and other guests. At the same time (putting myself in the shoes of the crew) I’d also refuse such a work trip if it includes these deep throat swabs and a possible hospitalization abroad.

I haven’t seen any other airlines react to this new requirement.

Conclusion

Many airlines including the Lufthansa Group have started to let crew deadhead back to their origin instead of entering a country and undergoing a regular layover there. This makes for a pretty long day considering 2 long haul flights back to back, one as a deadhead passenger and one as a working crew member.

Not sure how feasible that would be for a U.S. to Hong Kong flight as even under the best of circumstances that’s 2x 15 hours plus ground time. Probably impossible to operate this plus crew (especially pilots) would be too exhausted to properly operate a flight under these conditions. Airlines and health authorities worldwide really have to come up with a unified concept for these situations. It won’t go anywhere to keep this back and forth going. Maybe using transit hotels inside the airport terminal?

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