The Hong Kong Government banned passengers arriving on flights bound for Hong Kong in December if they have transited the UK for more than 2 hours in the 21 days preceding their arrival at HKIA. Furthermore, all operating crew were required to complete 21 days mandatory quarantine in a government designated hotel. Some local Hong Kong operators had their crews caught out with this short notice change and still remain in hotel quarantine from pre-Christmas arrivals – where they only stopped for fuel in the UK.
The Hong Kong Government (CHP) have now accepted that a short transit in the UK by the crew is permissible without the need to complete the mandatory 21 days quarantine on return to Hong Kong if they have NOT left the aircraft.
In order to facilitate ongoing UK operations, some airlines for example are using regions outside of the UK for crew changes, ensuring a 2-hour maximum technical stop is achieved safely in the UK – without crew leaving the aircraft or even opening the aircraft door (if possible).
Many long-range business aviation aircraft are fitted with internal re-fuel/de-fuel panels in the cabin or cockpit to traditionally facilitate re-fuelling without being exposed to extreme weather events. It is suggested that this function is utilised where possibly by crews to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19 or associated strands of similar viruses when re-fuelling in the UK.
In order to facilitate ongoing UK operations, Aviation Safety Asia has produced ‘advisory only’ guidance material for member organisations to consider when conducting technical stops/passenger drop off in the UK (particularly those that just require re-fuelling), in conjunction with using regions outside of the UK for crew changes where possible.