DOHA (Reuters) – Hong Kong has lost its status as a global aviation hub because of China’s zero-coronavirus policy, the head of airline group IATA said on Wednesday, warning that if Beijing , the industry’s recovery from the pandemic will slow as restrictions continue next year.
At the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conference in Qatar’s capital Doha, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said that China’s zero new crown epidemic policy “destroyed” Hong Kong and hit Hong Kong Cathay Pacific has worked hard.
“As a result, Cathay Pacific has become a shadow of its former days. Hong Kong has lost its status as a global hub and will struggle to regain it because other hubs have taken advantage of it,” he said, blaming It’s government policy, not the virus.
Hong Kong has traditionally been a major hub for international flights and passengers travelling to China, and is also the home base for Cathay Pacific.
The pace of recovery in global passenger demand accelerated in the northern hemisphere summer, with airline executives attributing higher-than-expected demand to a surge in people keen to travel after two years of restrictions.
But the recovery has been uneven, with China continuing to impose strict border and social restrictions related to COVID-19.
Walsh said IATA was watching closely for any signs that China would ease restrictions and said it had previously expected changes this year.
If the purchase restriction continues next year, the industry will be hit hard.
“It will obviously have an impact on the overall strength of the recovery,” Walsh told reporters.