Cathay Pacific said it will move its aircrew to a different hotel in Frankfurt and tighten other measures after a cargo pilot arriving in Hong Kong from the German city tested positive for COVID-19, triggering a lockdown at his residential estate, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The 53-year-old aircrew member was found to be carrying the L452R mutant strain linked to the more infectious Delta variant after returning to Hong Kong on 7 November, the Centre for Health Protection revealed on Saturday. Cargo pilots are exempt from hotel quarantine, but after two other Cathay pilots tested positive with the Delta variant earlier this week, fears are growing that the special treatment could spark new community cases and derail the city’s efforts to match mainland China’s zero-Covid approach and fully reopen the border.
Cathay Pacific said in a separate statement that it “acknowledges” that its pilots tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong after the flights. “We are conducting a thorough internal investigation into these cases to ensure we continue to operate with the highest degree of safety and compliance. Where improvements are necessary or compliance requirements are not being followed, we will take appropriate measures and actions in accordance with our company procedures,” the airline said. “As an immediate action, we will step up our compliance checks at overseas stations to ensure Cathay Pacific’s health and safety protocols are being strictly followed by aircrew during their layovers.”
Cathay Pacific said it will continue to work closely with the Transport and Housing Bureau as well as the health authorities to reinforce public health protection. “Specifically, we will issue further guidelines to strengthen the requirements over aircrew’s movements in the local community during their medical surveillance periods. We will also arrange our aircrew to undergo daily COVID-19 testing.”
Cathay also said it would be requiring all of its eligible aircrew to receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine and said all other Cathay Pacific employees will be “strongly encouraged to get the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as early as possible”.