British Airways has temporarily suspended its flights to Hong Kong in order to avoid the risk of any more of its crews being sent to a notorious, prison-like quarantine centre.
The decision was made after one of its crew members tested positive for Coronavirus on Saturday, resulting in an entire crew of nearly 20 cabin staff and pilots being sentenced to a 21-day quarantine order at Penny’s Bay quarantine camp.
According to industry insider Mateusz Maszczynski, a former flight attendant who now blogs about air travel, this is the third time a BA crew has been sent to the camp.
The facilities at Penny’s Bay have been heavily criticised because they are very similar to what you might find in a modern prison.
British Airways has been blasted for continuing to send crew to Hong Kong despite the risk of them being imprisoned against their will. Other airlines, including Emirates and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operate flights to Hong Kong via Bangkok so that pilots and crew never have to step foot off the aircraft in Hong Kong.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Heathrow-based carrier said it had reluctantly decided to suspend flights to and from Hong Kong.
“We have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend flights to Hong Kong while we review operational requirements for this route,” a spokesperson said.
A crew member from a different airline who was confined to the Penny Bay camp documented her stay, sharing pictures and videos from her Hong Kong quarantine quarters, a camp built of converted shipping containers.
Her post says:
I am currently in a Hong Kong quarantine facility. I was sent here with my flight crew after flying in from Frankfurt. Our post-flight PCR tests were negative but we are considered potential ‘close contacts’.
I need to stay in a container in Penny Bay Isolation Camp for 21 days.
Many of my colleagues are in this camp.
The accompanying video shows tiny rooms sparsely furnished with single beds covered in plastic, a bedside table, a table with a computer screen and a cramped and basic toilet and shower room.
It is perfectly understandable why airlines are reluctant to expose their crews to such an ordeal but it does mean that Hong Kong is now increasingly isolated from the Western world.
British Airways was one of the two main carriers from Europe to Hong Kong. The other main airline, Cathay Pacific has experienced similar quarantine problems for its crews.