According to a trade association representing hundreds of airlines worldwide, Hong Kong has ceased to serve as an international aviation hub as it restricts inbound flights and quarantines arriving passengers.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, stated, "It's basically off the map today, and I believe it'll be tough for Hong Kong to recover. It'll lag much behind the rebound we're seeing everywhere, and it'll be a difficult period for any airlines operating there."
Even the city's reduced quarantine requirements for arriving passengers, quarantine was reduced to one week this month, will deter travellers, according to Walsh. With most of Asia reopening, the IATA chief expressed optimism that Hong Kong might begin to ease its border restrictions.
Despite the lifting of some of the world's strictest inbound travel restrictions, Hong Kong continues to prohibit planes. The city's shutdown for much of the last two years due to pandemic restrictions has sparked growing discontent.
“The restrictions there have been very severe and have led directly to the cancellation of a lot of services with airlines, effectively finding it incredibly difficult, if not impossible to operate there,” Walsh continued.
IATA has cautioned that those who continue to try to keep the disease out rather than manage it risk missing out on huge economic and societal gains from international travel being restored. Nearly 300 airlines are represented in the organisation, which accounts for 83 % aviation travel.