Cathay Pacific Suspends Flights to and From Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Cathay Pacific self check-in machine is displayed at Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong. (Reuters/Bobby Yip/File Photo)

Cathay Pacific, which has been flying between Israel and Hong Kong since 2017, announced Wednesday it was suspending flights on the route. The suspension, as of now, will begin on February 24 and end on March 31. Passengers who purchased tickets will be rebooked on other carriers, the company said in an announcement.

The company said in a statement that it “believes in the route between Israel and Hong Kong and its importance to the relations between Israel and Hong Kong. We will be happy to return to our regularly scheduled flights when restrictions on Hong Kong residents entering Israel are lifted.”

The reason for the suspension, was, of course, coronavirus. The move was expected, after the Health Ministry on Tuesday banned the entry of residents of Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, and Thailand into Israel, after two weeks earlier banning residents of China from entering the country. The spread of coronavirus has also sharply cut reservations on Cathay Pacific and other carriers flying between Israel and the Far East.

El Al said Sunday that it was cutting its flights to Thailand by half. In addition, anyone who bought a ticket to Thailand for travel through at least March 2nd will be able to change their reservations at no cost. As far as crew on the flights that do take place are concerned, they will be exempt from the 14 day quarantine if they do not show symptoms of coronavirus, remained in the hotel where crew usually stay next to Bangkok Airport, and do not visit the city, the airline and the Health Ministry said in a joint announcement.

In an effort to keep coronavirus at bay as long as possible, the Immigration and Population Service announced that as of Thursday it will no longer admit residents of Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau,and Singapore. The ban includes workers in areas such as agriculture, home care, and manufacturing, as well as tourists. A similar ban was instituted several weeks ago against travelers from China.

The decision follows one by the Health Ministry Sunday that requires Israelis who return from those countries to enter a self-imposed quarantine for at least two weeks. The order comes after an increase in reported cases of coronavirus infection in countries throughout southeast Asia. The ban includes not only tourists and workers coming to Israel for the first time, but also workers who had been in Israel previously and returned home for a vacation.