Covid-19: Hong Kong asks Japan to lift airport bans, 60,000 travelers affected

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has asked Japan to withdraw a Covid-19 restrictions which allows passenger flights from the financial center to only land at four designated airports, saying the decision would affect around 60,000 passengers.
India, Italy, Taiwan and the United States require Covid-19 tests on travelers from China after Beijing’s decision last month to lift strict zero-Covid policies that have fueled a spike in infections across mainland China.
Hong Kong, home to more than 7 million people, is seeing around 20,000 coronavirus cases a day but lifted its Covid curbs on Thursday for the first time in three years.
Japan, a top travel destination for Hong Kongers, said it would limit flights from Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China to Tokyo’s two airports, as well as Osaka and Nagoya, starting on Friday.
The decision comes during a peak travel season ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday which begins on January 21.
“It is understood that around 250 flights departing from Hong Kong airlines will be affected between December 30, 2022 and the end of January 2023, affecting around 60,000 passengers,” the government said in a statement on Wednesday.
city ​​leader John Lee said the government had indicated to Japan that it was disappointed.
“We believe Hong Kong people should be allowed to use not just these four airports,” Lee said.
On Thursday, the Hong Kong government said Japan would allow passenger flights from Hong Kong to also land in Hokkaido, Fukuoka and Okinawa provided no passengers on board had been in mainland China in the past seven months. previous days, but said the condition was “unreasonable”.
Hong Kong airline flights can still bring passengers back to Hong Kong from airports in Japan, the government said, to ensure their smooth return and ‘minimize the impact on Hong Kong travelers caused by the incident. “.
In a statement, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways said it would continue to operate flights to Japan, although it would reduce them to 65 per week, down 20% from its schedule. scheduled for January 2023.
HK Express, which is owned by Cathay, said in a separate statement it would only be able to operate 60 scheduled flights per week to destinations in Japan due to the restrictions, leading to the cancellation of 41 flights from Hong Kong. to Japan in January.
Hong Kong Airlines and Peach Aviation have announced that they will cancel some flight routes due to the rules.
In December, China began dismantling the world’s toughest Covid regime of lockdowns and extensive testing, putting its struggling economy on track for a full reopening next year.
The lifting of restrictions following widespread protests has meant that Covid is spreading largely out of control, likely infecting millions every day, some international health experts have said.

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