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Cathay Pacific to cut more flights due to pandemic restrictions

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways said on Thursday it will cut more passenger flights and operate a reduced cargo capacity after the city tightened restrictions fearing a fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline will operate about 20% of its pre-pandemic cargo capacity and around 2% of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in January, it said in an emailed statement.

Hong Kong on Tuesday announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries, including the United States and Britain.

Cathay Pacific's website showed on Thursday zero scheduled dedicated freighter plane flights from Hong Kong to Europe and Southwest Pacific between January and March.

"This overall reduction in capacity will severely impact contracted cargo," the airline said.

The airline on Dec. 30 announced flight cancellation to and from Hong Kong. It did not say how many flights then, but that the cancellations would begin immediately and the airline planned to operate a skeleton passenger flight schedule in January.

Last week, Hong Kong health authorities said the city would tighten quarantine rules for air cargo crew. The new measures require that returning air cargo crew spend three days in hotel quarantine before a period of home isolation.

(Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree and Anushka Trivedi; Additional reporting by Kannaki Deka ; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Shinjini Ganguli)

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