Air Canada is in the process of re-booking and refunding passengers affected by Hong Kong’s temporary ban on its flights from Vancouver.
The airline and its customers were left scrambling over the weekend when Hong Kong’s department of health suddenly – and without too much explanation – banned Air Canada from flying into the city from Vancouver from Oct. 16 to 29.
According to a statement issued Friday, one passenger aboard Air Canada flight AC007, arriving in Hong Kong from Vancouver on Oct. 13, was confirmed to have COVID-19 by arrival testing.
Another passenger on that flight failed to comply with requirements under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation.
Hong Kong had 59 new cases of COVID-19 between Oct. 1 and 14, with one of them being a locally spread case of "unknown origin."
In a statement issued to the Richmond News, the airline confirmed that its Vancouver to Hong Kong passenger flights on Oct. 16, 19, 23 and 26 have been cancelled.
However, Air Canada’s Toronto-Hong Kong passenger flights and Vancouver-Hong Kong cargo flights “are not affected and will continue to operate as scheduled,” read the statement.
The airline said it doesn’t have any information on how many customers are impacted, but added that passengers affected from the four cancelled flights are being rebooked and offered travel options, such as travel at a later date, “where available and suitable for the customer.”
The airline stressed that customers are also eligible for a refund of the remaining value of their tickets “if we are unable to rebook them on a new flight departing within three hours of their original departure time.”
Hong Kong also reported nine imported cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The patients include seven women and two men, aged three to 68, who arrived from Canada, the Philippines, Russia, Egypt, India and the Maldives.
Of the nine patients, two had symptoms. Six had received two COVID-19 vaccine doses, including one of the patients who had symptoms.
Eight of the cases were mutant strains, while the mutation test result of the ninth case was still pending, according to a statement from the city’s health department.
Meanwhile, Glynnis Chan, the owner of Richmond-based Happy Times Travel and Tour Ltd, told the News she was woken in the middle of the night over the weekend by a frantic customer who had learned of the flight ban.
“A few clients are concerned that they couldn’t fly back to Hong Kong in time, including one client who had to attend his dad’s funerals,” said Chan.
Chan later figured out a solution to help clients reschedule and rebook flight tickets and accommodations, ensuring that they won’t miss anything important.
“I have been worried sick for my clients once they left Canada to Hong Kong and until they returned back to Canada again,” Chan added.
“The change is unpredictable and a small adjustment might require our team to reschedule and rearrange the whole trip.”
As a result of the Air Canada ban, Cathay Pacific’s direct flights to Hong Kong have spiked in price to around $3,618.
People can still travel to Hong Kong via Air Canada if they are comfortable with a 30-hour trip, including two additional stops, and be willing to cough up $5,138.