March 9, 2020 / 5:48 AM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Cathay could fly freight-only services on passenger jets after Japan curbs

* Most Japan passenger flights cut after quarantine imposed

* Cathay evaluating how to best serve cargo customers

* Seafood, fresh fruit popular cargo imports to Hong Kong - SCMP (Adds details of report on cargo carried, exploring more freight flights)

SYDNEY, March 9 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd may fly only freight to Japan, and no passengers, if it retains some services whose cancellation it announced at the weekend over travel curbs prompted by a coronavirus, the airline said on Monday.

On Saturday, the carrier cut most of its flights to Japan for the rest of March, after Japan said Chinese and Hong Kong passport holders faced two weeks of quarantine on arrival.

"Although we do expect our passenger belly cargo operations to be impacted, we are currently evaluating how to continue serving our cargo customers to and from Japan," Cathay told freight clients in an update.

"This includes the retention of certain passenger services for cargo carriage only."

The South China Morning Post newspaper reported on Friday that there were concerns the curbs on travel to Japan could hurt Hong Kong's supply of fresh seafood and fruit, typically flown in the hold of passenger jets.

The destinations of the cancelled Cathay passenger flights include Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagoya.

Cathay, one of the world's biggest freight carriers, said on Monday it was also exploring opportunities to increase cargo capacity. (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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