Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. Chairman Patrick Healy said the airline will cooperate with two government investigations after outbreaks of the omicron variant were traced back to team who were permitted to skirt strict quarantine prerequisites pointed toward keeping the city Covid free. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday reimposed some of its strictest virus controls since the pandemic started, with kindergartens and primary schools shutting once more. That comes after the city shut bars, beaches, beauty parlors and dining-in at restaurants after 6 p.m last week.
In a video address to staff seen by Bloomberg News, Healy said the carrier will cooperate with investigations into whether crew failed to comply with self-isolation rules and the airline’s practice of rostering crew onto cargo-only passenger aircraft, which allowed them to avoid longer quarantine periods.
Lam also criticized Cathay Pacific, whose crew brought in the infections that sparked the local omicron outbreak, for non-compliance with the city’s Covid rules. “We will take the legal action once we have the full evidence,” she said.
“The decision to roster staff on cargo-only passenger aircraft to return to Hong Kong was the company’s decision and the company takes full responsibility for that decision,” Healy said. “I am very confident that this rostering practice was entirely in line with the government regulations, which were in place until” Dec. 29, he said.
Hong Kong is being plunged into a semi-lockdown over a relatively small number of cases of the omicron variant, with authorities warning hidden clusters could be possible. The city has tested around 920,000 people over the past two weeks and found just 42 positive cases, Lam said.
Cathay shares were little changed in early Hong Kong trading Wednesday. The stock has fallen about 14% in the past two months.
That strict approach has seen the city put some 4,000 people in government quarantine and isolate asymptomatic cases, as Hong Kong continues its dogged pursuit of Covid Zero while the rest of the world bar China transitions to some form of living with the virus.
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