Cathay Pacific carried an average of just 774 passengers per day in May. Only around 2000 passengers per day used the Hong Kong airport. That’s only 1% of pre-pandemic volume. As a result, Cathay Pacific has just one lounge open – The Wing First Class lounge. (American Express’ Centurion lounge there remains closed.)
All first class, business class, and oneworld sapphire and above elite members use that one lounge. But without many passengers in the airport, there’s still capacity. And Cathay Pacific will pick up revenue, because as One Mile at a Time was first to report the Wing first class lounge joins Priority Pass effective Monday, June 21.
It’s just the first class lounge facility, they aren’t operating its full service. You don’t get the sit down dining experience, for instance. But it’s certainly one of the nicest lounges accessible via Priority Pass. Almost certainly it will exit the program once traffic begins to recover, although the decision to welcome Priority Pass revenue is one more indication travel restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted imminently.
In general many of the places that contained the virus during the early stages of the pandemic are doing very poorly in the late stages. They’re behind in vaccinations, with citizens remaining largely vulnerable to the virus, so their economies remain closed even as those countries that suffered more from virus spread feel ‘past it’ and are opening back up.
Take Taiwan, where vaccine uptake was limited because there wasn’t much Covid-19 spreading. They face an outbreak, everyone wants a vaccine, and they don’t have enough supply.
- They bet heavily on building a domestic manufacturing capability, which hasn’t yet delivered, and the vaccine is older technology that may not be as effective.
- They’ve had difficulty sourcing vaccine from the rest of the world. For instance Germany’s BioNTech, which partners with Pfizer, reneged on an agreement for doses even after Taiwan agreed not to refer to itself as a ‘country’ (remember, China has even kept Taiwan out of the World Health Organization). Then a mainland Chinese firm was given exclusive distribution rights for ‘China’. So Taiwan must accept help from China to vaccinate its people, something younger Taiwanese abhor.
China itself successfully contained the virus, which was perhaps 40 times as bad there than reported, by locking people in their homes which in some cases became tombs. Despite Marriott flattering President Xi for his ideal response to the pandemic China doesn’t appear poised to re-open.
Or look at Australia which flubbed its vaccination roll out. They bet heavily on AstraZeneca, but without much Covid spreading they backed off of it – the (very modest) risk was hard to sell when there wasn’t significant Covid risk either. So they got way behind in line for Pfizer and are hopeful to be vaccinating in earnest at the end of the year.
Australians still largely cannot leave the country, except to go to New Zealand, and are being threatened with prosecution if they fly from New Zealand to a third country (even though there’d be required state quarantine on return). There’s talk of a process to allow vaccinated Australians to leave and even home quarantine on return, but that’s not real yet.
While you may say, ‘gosh I’d have loved to be trapped in Australia or Taiwan for the first year of the pandemic’ I’m not sure most people would say that about the second year.