The government recently allowed flights from nine countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to resume after bans that lasted two to three months, but airlines continue to struggle with the city's strict "zero Covid" policy. Officials this week temporarily banned flights again from India, Pakistan and the Philippines.
As of Wednesday, 11 flight routes from 10 airlines had been temporarily cut off, including those from London and Amsterdam, the government said in a statement.
The latest disruption is linked to a controversial regulation that requires routes to be suspended for seven days if three or more passengers on an incoming flight test positive for Covid-19 or have insufficient health documentation.
The carriers affected are Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air India, Turkish Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, All Nippon Airways and regional budget airline Scoot, according to Hong Kong authorities.
In recent months, the rise of the Omicron variant has meant this rule has been repeatedly activated, causing many flights into the city to be canceled and chaos for travelers around the world. So far this month, 21 routes have already been suspended over the rule.
Joanne Townson, who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 25 years, said she'd had at least six flights to the city canceled over the last 16 months for various reasons, including the regulation.
She said Hong Kong's flight bans and quarantine restrictions recently prompted her to resign "from a job I loved" and fly to Europe, because she had been unable to see her daughters for 18 months.
The flight suspension rule is slamming Hong Kong's position as a premier aviation hub, which was already in question as the city grappled with the impact of its strict quarantine measures. Prior to the global health crisis, the city was home to one of the world's busiest airports.
The latest effects of the restrictions were seen starkly on Tuesday, as just a single flight came in to the city from outside the Asia Pacific region, according to Hong Kong International Airport. The flight was operated by Emirates and came from Dubai.