FedEx pilots call for Hong Kong flights to be suspended

By Damian Brett

FedEx pilots have called on the express company to suspend services to Hong Kong as a result of “unacceptable risks” related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) has passed a resolution calling on their company to suspend operations in Hong Kong after pilots were forced into hospitals and government camps as a result of Covid-19.

The union claimed that three Covid-19 positive asymptomatic FedEx pilots have been forced into mandated hospital facilities for up to 10 days in Hong Kong.

Additionally, several pilots who already tested negative for Covid-19, but who had been in close contact with a Covid-19 positive person were put into government camps under “extremely difficult conditions”.

Dave Chase, FedEx ALPA Master Executive Council chairman, said: “Not only do these situations pose unacceptable risks to our pilots’ safety and wellbeing, but they also create added stress and distraction for flight operations.

“While the Covid-19 global pandemic rages on, FedEx pilots continue to provide essential services, operating in extremely challenging and ever-changing environments and constantly adapting to new government mandates and restrictions around the globe.

“In Hong Kong, recent government mandates regarding Covid-19 testing have created unacceptable conditions for pilots, including our Hong Kong-based pilots and their families.

“Pilots who test positive for Covid-19 face compulsory admission and treatment in government-selected public hospitals, with as many as five patients to a room with one shared bathroom. In addition, any pilot or family member in Hong Kong found to have been exposed to a Covid-19 positive individual is placed in a government quarantine facility for up to 14 days with very sparse provisions.

“We are in contact with FedEx management as we advocate to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of our crewmembers operating in Hong Kong. However, every day that passes with crews being exposed to these conditions is unacceptable.”

In response, FedEx said the safety and well-being of its team members continues to be a top priority.

“The situation in Hong Kong is dynamic as the Hong Kong government adapts its policies to prevent a resurgence of the virus there,” the express giant said. “We are fully engaged with government authorities to support our crew members in situations requiring medical treatment or self-isolation in Hong Kong.

“Our operations in Asia Pacific are vital to our global network, and we are proud of the way our entire FedEx team has continued to operate through difficult circumstances to keep the global supply chain moving around the world.”

This is not the first time US airlines have had issues with pilots flying into Hong Kong. Earlier in July, American Airlines and United Airlines temporarily suspended flights to the city because of regulations requiring all crew members to be tested for Covid-19 when they landed.

Earlier in the week, the Hong Kong government announced new testing rules for flight crew as the city’s leader, Carrier Lam, warned Hong Kong was on the verge of a large scale community outbreak.

air crew must test negative for Covid-19 an accredited laboratory with the specimen collected within 48 hours prior to boarding the flight to Hong Kong.

Otherwise, the air crew must take a test on arrival at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and wait for the test results there or at any other designated location.

Carriers will need to ensure that crew self-isolate at a designated location in accordance with Department of Health’s requirements.

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