FedEx Express (FX, Memphis Int'l) is closing its crew base at Hong Kong Int'l and relocating its pilots but will continue to operate to the city as it forms a vital part of its Asia-Pacific and global network, it said in a statement to Bloomberg.

This comes after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam earlier this week said authorities would consider clamping down on flight crews to curb the spread of COVID-19 after three Cathay Pacific cargo pilots tested positive after returning from Frankfurt Int'l. Hong Kong is pursuing a Covid-Zero policy in a bid to reopen its border with mainland China. This includes a mandatory 21-day hotel quarantine for arrivals from many destinations.

The South China Morning Post quoted a company memo by FedEx’s system chief pilot, Robin Sebasco, saying that “the decision to close the Hong Kong base reflects this constant evolution and is designed to provide a measure of stability to these team members, as there is no clear timeline when life may return to normal in Hong Kong”.

Sebasco said FedEx would continue to serve Hong Kong with pilots based in Oakland, California, the Post reported. At the start of 2021, the logistics giant relocated 180 pilots and their families from Hong Kong to California in response to strict aircrew quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific said all crew who flew in from Frankfurt this month would undergo a 21-day quarantine at a government facility. Crew members were also required to get a third vaccine shot as soon as possible. The airline has stepped up its compliance checks at overseas stations. It has also asked pilots to volunteer for a so-called closed-loop plan which requires them to fly for three weeks before entering a two-week quarantine upon their return to ensure that services are not disrupted.