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Bringing Hong Kongers home


Across the world, people have been left stranded by travel restrictions. Our role is to get them home.


COVID-19’s rapid spread across the globe led to a series of ever-changing travel restrictions and quarantine measures imposed by various countries. The result? Thousands of people – including Hong Kongers – trapped overseas in lockdown. 

At Cathay Pacific, our can-do spirit came to the fore to get them home, despite the risks. Earlier this year, we answered the Hong Kong government’s call to help repatriate citizens stuck in both Japan and Wuhan, China. In February, three flights from Japan repatriated just under 200 Hong Kongers who had been on the Princess Diamond cruise ship in Yokohama. Meanwhile, eight flights brought home the more than 1,000 people who had been in Wuhan during the lockdown over the month of March.

Since then, we’ve operated a number of repatriation flights from around the world to bring stranded travellers back home to their loved ones. 

‘All of the operating crew including the pilots, cabin crew and engineers volunteered,’ says Jeanette Mao, General Manager Inflight Service Delivery. ‘They believed it was the right thing to do and they wanted to bring our people back home.’

Running rescue flights is a complex issue, requiring the input of different teams covering everything from crew resourcing to negotiating with governments for landing permissions. This gets even more complicated when you’re flying to or from virus hotspots or carrying groups of people with a higher likelihood of infection.

Between the end of April and the middle of May, we were able to repatriate some 2,300 Australian and British citizens in eight flights from New Zealand to the UK via Australia. ‘It was great to be back at the airport, working with the British High Commission and sending people back home to see their loved ones,’ says Matthew Soden, Airport Operations Manager, Auckland. 

It was a similarly unique experience for the Ho Chi Minh City airport team, who saw a charter flight on their way in April for British and Australian citizens – at an otherwise shuttered airport. ‘We were the only operating airline at the time, and officials from both consulates were there, which made it a truly special experience,’ says Jason Choi, Country Manager of Vietnam and Cambodia.

‘As always, our people demonstrate professionalism, dedication and can-do spirit even during the most challenging times,’ says Jeanette Mao.  'We’re happy to be able to help'.