(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong should urgently provide a clear roadmap for the complete removal of all Covid-19 travel restrictions, the city’s main carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said Monday. 

The airline’s statement followed the government saying it will cut mandatory hotel quarantine to three days from a week, effective Aug. 12. Cathay described the move as a positive step, yet it still leaves Hong Kong more closed off than other places -- beyond mainland China -- that have dropped most curbs on travel and allow much freer movement. A clear plan to lift all restrictions is needed to protect Hong Kong’s status as an aviation hub, the airline said. 

Hong Kong Cuts Hotel Quarantine to Three Days to Revive Hub

Hong Kong’s policies on travel, including quarantine of as long as 21 days earlier in the crisis, decimated air traffic in and out of the city and saddled Cathay with over HK$24 billion ($3 billion) in losses.

Cathay said last month it plans to operate 25% of its pre-virus passenger capacity by the end of the year, up from below 2% in the depths of the pandemic. Rival Singapore Airlines Ltd. -- operating under more supportive travel policies -- has said it will hit 81% around then.

Cathay’s shares rose 1.4% Monday, taking this year’s rally to 34%, comfortably the best performance on a Bloomberg gauge of world airline stocks. Air China Ltd.’s Hong Kong-traded shares are second-best, rising 14% this year. 

Virgin Won’t Fly to Hong Kong Again Until at Least March 2023

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said in an email it is sticking with plans to suspend flights to Hong Kong until March 2023. London Heathrow, Virgin’s main base, has imposed daily passenger capacity limits, discouraging airlines from selling tickets as the UK’s biggest airport struggles to cope with a rebound in travel.

Singapore Airlines, which flies twice daily to Hong Kong and four times a week with budget carrier Scoot, said in an emailed statement it will continue to be nimble and flexible in adding capacity to meet demand.

Airport Authority Hong Kong, which manages the city’s airport, welcomed the quarantine adjustment and said it will be conducive to a recovery in traffic. 

(Adds comments from Virgin, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines)

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