Hong Kong temporarily blocks some airlines' routes in Covid-19 prevention measure

Jadyn Sham, Chandler Thornton and Jennifer Hauser, CNNUpdated 16th December 2020
People wear facemasks as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, as they walk near the check in counters at Hong Kongs international airport on March 24, 2020, hours before a ban on all non-residents from entering the city from midnight in a bid to halt the coronavirus. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP) (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNN) — Hong Kong has put a temporary ban on four international airlines flying specific routes into the city under a new law aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19, the Hong Kong government told CNN Friday.
In a blow to potential holiday travelers, British Airways passenger flights from London into Hong Kong have been banned from December 12 to December 25, authorities said.
These flights were added to a growing number of banned flights Friday, according to Hong Kong officials, who cited a British Airways flight that arrived in Hong Kong on December 8 with four Covid-positive passengers and one passenger who failed to comply with prevention requirements.
Under strict new rules the Hong Kong government is now prohibiting British Airways, Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Nepal Airlines from flying specific routes into Hong Kong for 14 days, with dates that vary by airline.
"We are disappointed to have been instructed by the Hong Kong authorities to temporarily suspend our passenger flights from London to Hong Kong and are working closely with the authorities to resume these services," British Airways said in a statement.
"We are contacting our customers to apologise and offer the option of flying with another carrier, travelling with us at a later date or accepting a full refund. Our flights from Hong Kong to London continue to operate as normal," the statement reads.
An incoming flight from Amsterdam operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on November 27, a flight from Kathmandu to Hong Kong operated by Nepal Airlines on December 1 and two flights to Hong Kong from Dubai via Bangkok operated by Emirates on December 2 and 3 were all also found to have one or more Covid-positive passengers aboard, according to a government statement.
The ban is enforceable when an airline carries more than five Covid-19 positive passengers, as was the case of the Nepal Airlines flight on December 1, from which six passengers tested positive on arrival.
The ban is also enforceable on an airline which operates two consecutive flights into Hong Kong carrying Covid-19 positive passengers, as was the case with the Emirates flights which brought four cases to Hong Kong on December 2 and three cases on December 3.
The flight operated by KLM from Amsterdam to Hong Kong on November 27 only had one confirmed Covid-positive passenger on board, but was also added to the 14-day blacklist by the Hong Kong government.
The government says it reserves the right to block a route for 14 days if a passenger on board an aircraft carrying Covid-19 fails to comply with pandemic control measures.
The Hong Kong government said Friday that KLM's Amsterdam-Hong Kong and Nepal Airlines' Kathmandu route will be put out of action until December 17, while Emirates will be unable to fly into Hong Kong from Dubai or Bangkok until December 18.
"Passengers booked on EK384 with a final destination of Hong Kong will not be accepted in Dubai and are advised to contact their travel agent or local Emirates office for rebooking or refund options," said an Emirates representative in a statement. "Emirates apologizes for the inconvenience caused."
The airline rep added that Flight EK384 from Dubai to Bangkok continues to operate as scheduled and flight EK385 from Hong Kong to Dubai via Bangkok remains unaffected.
CNN has also reached out to KLM and Nepal Airlines for comment.