HK scraps quarantine rules for international air crews

Hong Kong scrapped its closed-loop requirement for international airline crews late on Thursday, ending almost two years of pandemic-related restrictions on flight staff.

Transport officials in the Asian financial hub told airline industry representatives of the change, which took effect immediately, people familiar with the matter said, declining to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.

The change means that foreign airline crews won’t be confined to a quarantine hotel when they’re on a stopover in Hong Kong, the people said.

Previously, international airline crews weren’t allowed to leave their designated hotel or mingle with anyone outside of their own bubble before boarding their next flight out. Hong Kong did away with closed-loop quarantine rules for locally based airline crews in September.

It also brings foreign aircrew rules in line with the situation for ordinary passengers entering and leaving Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said on Wednesday that the city will end some of its last major Covid rules, including scrapping gathering limits, vaccination checks and testing for travelers.

Making life easier for international carriers serving Hong Kong is an important step as the city tries to rebuild its reputation as an aviation hub.

Flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. has said it may take as long as two years to get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity as it restocks its staffing ranks and adds back capacity.