Cathay Pacific has dropped multiple international flights for the rest of the month continuing to January as Hong Kong maintains a stringent zero-COVID strategy.
Only weeks after resuming several flights into Australia, the airline has cancelled all but two flights a week to Sydney throughout January, dropping from two a day.
Flights to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are being cancelled from the schedule altogether.
“The new consolidated schedule will result in several flight cancellations,” said Cathay on its website.
Earlier this week, Cathay services to New York were also slashed until early January after three passengers on a flight were reported to be infected.
The airline did not provide further information but said it would reach out to all affected customers and make alternative flight arrangements, according to Reuters.
The move marks the latest blow for the Hong Kong carrier, as it has been flying only 12 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity levels, compared to most airlines flying above 70 per cent.
Cathay also said in November it was flying five per cent less passengers per day due the lack of student travel.
Hong Kong has remained the strictest nation in response to the pandemic in a bid to have zero cases, while other nations have adopted strategies to live with COVID-19.
As the world battles the latest surge of cases from the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, seeing countries impose strict restrictions again, Hong Kong is still reporting a daily average of seven cases and has not experienced an outbreak since January.
In November, the carrier was seeking options for employees to be transferred abroad for up to four months to reduce transmission.
It came only days after the airline imposed tough rules for aircrew to undergo mandatory quarantining for 21 days after entering the nation.
Many industry leaders have criticised Hong Kong for its unnecessary COVID-19 restrictions, which continue to impact thousands of businesses.
Last week, chief executive of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker told the South China Morning Post that the policy was “killing” the airline.
“You can’t just shut the aviation industry (down) because somebody got infected coming in (on) someone’s aeroplane,” he said.
Al Baker holds almost a 10 per cent stake in Cathay, and said he is “disappointed” with Hong Kong’s choice to remain closed, even to Mainland China.
Despite the borders being closed from the world, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in October she is confident the nation will remain a leading aviation hub.