American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) and United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) abruptly suspended their newly resumed services to Hong Kong Int'l on July 9 because of new mandatory Covid-19 testing rules for flight crews, the South China Morning Post reported.

The rules require all crew members arriving at the airport to provide throat saliva samples at a nearby government facility, the AsiaWorld-Expo venue, effective from July 8. But unlike passengers, they do not have to wait for their results and are free to leave.

The carriers’ pilots and cabin crew are refusing to fly to the city as, under the new regulations, all crew members could be quarantined for 14 days if one of them tests positive. Airlines fear that quarantine would throw operations into chaos.

Several North American and European carriers have collectively suggested that aircrew be tested in their home countries before departing for Hong Kong, sources told the newspaper.

Amid fears of a third wave of infections in Hong Kong, with 132 new cases in the last week after a three-week lull, the first results from the compulsory tests on incoming flight crews arrived revealing four cases. However, three of these were locally-based pilots at Hong Kong Airlines unit Hong Kong Air Cargo who had just returned from Almaty.

American Airlines cancelled its flight due to depart Dallas/Fort Worth on July 9, and it has extended the suspension of the route until August 5, Bloomberg reported. United extended its suspension of flights to and from Hong Kong up to and including its July 10 westbound flight to San Francisco, CA. The resumption of both routes had only been announced last week.

“We are currently assessing how this impacts our future operations,” a United Airlines spokesman said.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines cancelled its July 8 Amsterdam Schiphol-Hong Kong flight, while the return leg on July 10 will be routed via Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, it told the South China Morning Post. British Airways said it would “comply” with the tests and Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) had no comments.