1st August 2020 – (Hong Kong) Cathay Pacific Airways has recently been accused of making additional requests that prevented more than 100 foreign domestic helpers from boarding the flight. Some groups stated that at the request of Cathay Pacific, foreign domestic helpers were unable to arrive in Hong Kong as scheduled, causing local employers to suffer losses. The employment agency industry has indicated that it will suspend the booking of Cathay Pacific’s tickets to Hong Kong from the Philippines.
Chairman of HONG KONG EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES ASSOCIATION LIMITED, Cheung Kit Man said that since the 25th of last month, he has received many cases saying that foreign domestic helpers were unable to board Cathay Pacific flights in the Philippines due to issues with virus test documents. According to his understanding, it was because Cathay Pacific required foreign domestic helpers to bring along with them virus test certificate issued by the laboratory or medical institution that was recognised by the local Department of Health. After the authenticity of the letter is proven, only then they could board the plane. However, according to the entry requirements announced by the Hong Kong government on the 18th of last month, it did not specify that the letter needs to be authenticated by the local Ministry of Health.
In the letter provided by Cheung, it can also be clearly seen that the local Ministry of Health has signed the letter. Cheung said frankly that he did not understand why Cathay Pacific did not accept the letter. Cheung criticised that it would take 48 hours to do a virus test and wait for the original report and doctor’s certificate. It is basically impossible to complete Cathay Pacific’s additional requirements within 72 hours and catch the plane. He questioned Cathay Pacific’s unnecessary move and said that Philippine Airlines, which also has flights to Hong Kong, has no additional requirements. The industry does not understand why the two airlines have different handling of the documents. He also criticized Cathay Pacific for not arranging other flights or making refund arrangements for those unable to board. Cheung also mentioned that Hong Kong employers have to buy air tickets and book hotels for foreign domestic helpers, and their Cathay Pacific air tickets range from HK$2,000 to HK$3,000, plus an average of HK$7,000 to book a 14-day hotel accommodation.
If the foreign domestic helper fails to arrive in Hong Kong on schedule, the hotel will charge a handling fee for the extension, and some do not offer a refund. The employer will suffer a double loss of more HK$10,000. Cheung also bluntly said that the people waiting for foreign domestic helpers are the elderly and disabled people in urgent need. The fact that foreign domestic helpers cannot go to Hong Kong will directly affect their lives.
According to the anti-epidemic measures announced by the Hong Kong government, starting from the 25th of last month, foreign domestic helpers from Indonesia and the Philippines must present a doctor’s certificate, original laboratory report, laboratory or medical institution within 72 hours before check-in, letter recognised or approved by the local government/Department of Health and a confirmation letter for booking in a hotel in Hong Kong before boarding and entering Hong Kong.