Locked in: Hong Kong COVID rules take mental toll on Cathay pilots

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One of Asia’s largest airlines, Cathay Pacific, is facing terrorists from pilots who say Hong Kong’s strict rules of isolation under its zero-COVID principles are putting their health at risk, leading to stress and job losses.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd last week was fired https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/cathay-pacific-fires-3-pilots-infected-with-covid-19-layover-scmp-2021-11-18 three pilots who violated company rules by leaving their hotel rooms during their stay in Frankfurt and were later found with COVID-19.


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The government responded by forcing more than 270 people, including students with their families, to move into smaller camps at a state-run camp. Https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-hongkong- families-idUSKBN2B711T.

Some pilots have also been told not to fly https://www.instagram.com/p/CWr6BPRh8N9 for their first job after being released.

An alarming example of epidemic protection under China’s zero-COVID principle illustrates the difficulties faced by Cathay pilots, all of whom are vaccinated, as some Asian countries are slowly reopening.

Cathay competitors along with Qantas Airways Ltd of Australia have begun to release restrictions but the Hong Kong government is tightening the rules in line with the country, hoping to persuade Beijing to allow cross-border travel.


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These rigid rules come amid widespread concerns in South Africa, which have also been reported in Hong Kong and Botswana and have led to a number of countries announcing stricter regimes and vigorous testing.

“I don’t think I can do this,” an unnamed Cathay pilot told Reuters. “The stress that may be on my family and friends is bothering me.”

Several Cathay pilots recently and recently told Reuters that morals were low and that layoffs were growing a year after many cut off their salaries permanently https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cathay-pacific-layoffs- idUSKBN2780L0 more. about 58%.

Depression is a serious problem in companies where any sign of mental illness can make it difficult to find another job.


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What would happen if I told them I was worried? asked a pilot who had spent more than 200 nights locked in hotel rooms away from Hong Kong since the epidemic. “Does this affect my health? Then you leave here and ask if you have been suspended for psychological reasons?”

The pilots also expressed frustration with the ambiguity of some of the laws regarding the epidemic that the government has introduced. For example, pilots avoid having “improper contact” for three weeks after returning to Hong Kong, but are not given time off to pay.

Cathay admitted to Reuters in his statement that the resignation of pilots had risen sharply since the end of October.

“It is unfortunate that what happened in Frankfurt has had an impact on how people feel,” the airline said.


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Hong Kong classifies many territories including the United States and Britain as “extremely dangerous,” meaning that Cathay pilots flying in from those areas remain stable for two weeks.

To work in the aviation industry, Cathay began operating “locks” freely in February plus five consecutive weeks confined to hotel rooms without ventilation or gymnasium and then two weeks away from home.

“I did it to earn some money, since a 50% cut (last year) made life very difficult,” said a recently departed pilot who performed two closing loops. “There are people right now who are on the 5th or 6th loop closed.”

Cathay said on Thursday some of the trips that come within the much-needed season in December will be suspended, highlighting the lack of volunteers.


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The airline said it was aware of the pilots ‘plight and had two sessions each week to share concerns with programs such as pilots’ support networks and provide longer access.


As things move around the world, other airlines including Emirates and US cargo holders Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc and Cathay pilots have not been able to search for heads, said Reuters.

Emirates, which has set up a recruiting mission for 600 pilots, declined to comment. Atlas did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters pilots spoke to them and said they expected more people to resign next year when the housing and school upgrades expire.

Cathay said it will use “several hundred new pilots” and re-launch its cadet program in the coming year.

Hong Kong’s strict rules led FedEx Corp to close its airline in the city last week, confirming the attraction of the division as a hub.

“I feel sorry for the people in Cathay,” a FedEx pilot who had just left Hong Kong said. “I am very concerned about their health and well-being.”

(Report by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Edited by Miyoung Kim and Stephen Coates)



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