Hong Kong has extended its ban on foreign pax to July 31, but officials have said this will likely remain in place until mid-September.

Here’s the lowdown on what’s currently allowed:

  • Non-residents may only enter if coming from China, Macao or Taiwan, but not if they have travelled to any other country within the past 14 days.
  • All inbound pax, including Hong Kong residents, are subject to a 14-day quarantine.
  • The transit rules through Hong Kong have been loosened a little – pax can now transit through Hong Kong even if connecting between different airlines. Some conditions apply – flights must be on a single booking, pax must meet the entry requirements of where they are going, their bags must be checked all the way through and their transit is limited to 24 hours. It’s worth noting that transiting to and from mainland China is still not possible.
  • Flight crew are exempt from the entry ban, but there are still stringent health checks on arrival, and you have to self-isolate at your hotel for the duration of your stay.
  • For more info, check the official guidance here.

Here’s how the health checks work, depending on who you are:

I’m a Passenger

You’ll get shuttled over to the AWE Exhibition Centre next to the airport to give saliva samples. Reports suggest that if you’re arriving between 1101L-0359L, from somewhere other than the US, the UK, and Europe, you might be allowed to leave without having to wait for the test results. For everyone else, they have to wait for the test results to come back before they can leave – HKBAC say this takes around 3-4 hours. Either way, once you’re done there, you’ll then get shuttled back to HKBAC where you can get your own transportation to wherever you’re headed – all travellers must undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days, during which they must wear a wristband that monitors their location.

I’m Operating Crew

You have to do all the same health checks but don’t have to wait around for your test results – you can go to an approved hotel and do the isolation there. (Not all hotels are accepting guests who are required to self-isolate though, so make sure you verify in advance that the hotel will accept you!) If you don’t get a phone call within 48hrs, you’re all good – that means the test result was negative. If you do get a phone call, bad luck – someone will soon be coming to take you to hospital for quarantine. More info here.

I’m Positioning Crew

You have to go through all the health checks, just like pax, but there’s a way to get around the 14-day quarantine on arrival. You need to prepare a letter in advance (see below). As positioning crew, you’re required to self-isolate at the Skycity Marriott hotel for medical surveillance whilst you’re waiting for your outbound flight. You’ll have to wear a mask and get your temperature checked daily for reporting to the authorities. If you have a residence in HK, then lucky you – you’ll be allowed to go there instead.

So to apply for the exemption from the 14-day quarantine for positioning crew, you have to send a letter to HKBAC, who will charge you HKD500 (around $65 USD). Here’s how it works, and the info you need to include:

  1. Flight Operator issues the letter with company letter head describing travel purpose and duty of the concerned crew
  2. The Operator sends email to HKBAC to get verification endorsement on the letter. After verification, a scanned copy of the letter would be sent to the Operator by email.
  3. The Operator provides that letter with verification by HKBAC to its concerned crew.
  4. The concerned crew brings along the letter when travelling as passengers on commercial flight
  5. Upon landing in Hong Kong, the crew approaches Crew Channel to obtain exemption from the Duty Immigration Officer before going through Immigration as passenger

Remarks:

  1. HKBAC’s checking is only for the identity verification based on the information provided by the Operator. HKBAC does not hold any liability on the exemption approval process.
  2. Administration fee at HKD500 per endorsement would be applied and will be charged to the Operator which requests for the crew exemption letter. 
  3. Validity of the letter for crew exemption will be 7 days from the commercial flight date.
  4. Although air crew can be exempted from the compulsory quarantine, the Department of Health (DH) will arrange Medical Surveillance for persons under the exempted categories of persons during their stay in Hong Kong. Exempted persons are subject to the temperature check and health declaration procedures carried out by DH. 
  5. In order to avoid your crew members being denied check in or boarding the commercial flights, please contact the commercial airlines that the crew would be travelling in in advance to ensure they are aware of the exemption.
  6. Please be advised there is no guarantee that HK Health accepts the air crew letter for inbound positioning crew.

Background:

Hong Kong has always been a tricky place to fly to, unless you’re an airline with landing rights secured for the next two decades. As the world’s third busiest airport, with only two runways, it goes without saying that congestion is a big issue here!

Things got slightly easier at the start of March 2020 when, following months of disruption due to the anti-government protests and then the coronavirus outbreak, the airport decided to relax its “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for slots until the end of October 2020. This meant that airlines were allowed to keep their slots even if they didn’t use them. So, good news for them, but also good news for GA/BA operators, as the overall reduction in traffic meant that a lot more slots suddenly became available – daytime ones too!

Have you flown to Hong Kong recently? How did it go? Send us an email and let us know, or even better – file a report on Airport Spy and it will automatically go out to everyone in the group!

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David Mumford

David Mumford

Opsgroup team member. International flight ops news hound.

2 Comments

  • Peter says:

    Outdated info regarding flight crews. As of 7/29 aircrews must have documented proof of negative test within 48 hours or submit to a test and remain at testing site until results are back which can take greater than 12 hours. If found to be positive, the crew member(s) will be forcibly quarantined for 14 or more days in a horrible facility akin to a low security jail. Pilots have described it as a nightmarish experience.

  • Mila says:

    Since that was for April 6th.. its been past May 6th too… When will entry restrictions loosen up again? I need to know. Cheerio!

    – Mystiquexo, or else. Mila. XD

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