From the 01st July all passenger flights from the UK to Hong Kong will be banned. The UK falls under the highest rating Hong Kong has for pandemic travel. Hong Kong sees this as an important step to curb the spread of Covid. In particular the Delta variant. Presently their are 8 daily non-stop flights from the UK to Hong Kong. All direct flights are ex London. Flights outbound from Hong Kong to the UK are not affected. The Hong Kong flight ban also covers transit passengers who have been in the UK for more than 2 hours.
Why have Hong Kong chose to ban flights
Despite high vaccination rates in the UK this hasn’t prevented new cases of Covid. Presently the UK has the highest number of new cases across Europe. Most of these are linked to the Delta variant of the disease. Hong Kong has manged to keep it’s Covid case rates low. There first Delta variant was confirmed only last week. That detection ended a 16 day streak of no reported cases in Hong Kong.
Officials in Hong Kong have confirmed that despite requiring all arriving passengers to quarantine they are seeing increased Delta variant cases in passengers from the UK. When asking why now to ban UK flights this could be seen as an extension to an existing Hong Kong flight ban. Arrivals from the UK had been banned from December 2020 until May of this year.
Hong Kong flight ban covers several countries
The Hong Kong flight ban does not single out the UK. There are several countries already banned from flying into Hong Kong. Indonesia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines are all banned at this time. The ties between Hong Kong and the UK though mark this ban as different. There has been tension between the UK and China for some time over Hong Kong. It is difficult to say what impact those tensions had on any decision to ban flights.
Restriction on UK movements closer to home
Other countries may not have banned flights from the UK but have restricted movement. With the UK government pushing to lift restrictions and more countries added to the green list European countries have reacted. Extending their own quarantine restrictions in response to the easing of travel from the UK. The US has confirmed that UK travel is to remain restricted until at least the Autumn. With the coming to an end of passenger freighters this will continue to have a knock on effect for cargo.
Cargo and the flight ban
The cargo flight ban will continue to cause problems for cargo. With limited freighter options and the ending of Passengers flight carrying cargo in the main body of the aircraft costs may have to rise. Space is already tight and with flights further grounded the situation will get worse. It will be an interesting second half to this year. With the UK government pushing ahead will getting back to normal. Will the world allow the UK to acheive their aims or is the Delta variant to much of a risk.