FedEx to shift pilots out of Hong Kong to avoid onerous quarantine

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FedEx Express is temporarily shifting its Hong Kong-based pilots and families to San Francisco as a result of the special territory’s plan for a rigorous quarantine for airline crew.

Cathay Pacific warned earlier that the new 14-day quarantine plus a 7-day medical surveillance requirement for both Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew would further reduce its current passenger capacity by 60 per cent and cargo by a 25 per cent.

FedEx says it felt it inappropriate to subject its Hong Kong-based crew to extended periods of isolation, away from their families, following flights.

“While we don’t know what the rule will state, when it will precisely take effect, or how long it will last, we do not want unknowns to prevent us from taking action on what we understand may likely occur,” FedEx system chief pilot Robin Sebasco said in a memo to pilots, according to the South China Morning Post.

FedEx has some 180 pilots based in Hong Kong and the memo noted the company would pay hotel costs and out-of-pocket expenses for pilots and their families in San Francisco, while continuing to pay their housing allowances in Hong Kong. The move is expected to take place as soon as 1 February. The Hong Kong government has not said exactly when it will introduce the new measures, saying only sometime in February.

Cathay, on the other hand, reportedly requested volunteers among its crew who could fly for three weeks, followed by 14 days of quarantine and 14 days free of duty, while the quarantine is in place.

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