Hong Kong airport flights cancelled for 2nd day
Flights were cancelled at Hong Kong International Airport for a second day Tuesday (13 August) as protesters occupied the departure hall and used trolley carts to block frustrated passengers, many of whom have been waiting for more than 36 hours to board flights out of the troubled special administrative region of China.
The flight cancellations followed those the day before when the airport was also brought to a standstill by anti-government protesters fighting authorities who have been trying for months to calm tensions originally brought on by an attempt by the government to pass an extradition bill favoured by Beijing among other complaints.
Flights into and out of Hong Kong had slowly been returning to normal Tuesday after protesters thinned out later Monday night and early Tuesday, but in the afternoon Tuesday hundreds more protesters returned to the airport, sitting in the terminal with placards denouncing police brutality and calling for freedom for Hong Kong. The demonstrators used luggage carts as barricades to block departing passengers and officials eventually decided to cancel check-ins at both terminals.
Tempers flared as arguments erupted between passengers and protesters, with some passengers crying and saying they just wanted to get home, according to media reports. Police said they were closely monitoring the situation at the airport, working with airport authorities, and would carefully consider the need to use force.
Earlier in the day, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, said the city risked being “pushed into an abyss.” The situation in Hong Kong is becoming increasingly tenuous as Beijing has held unprecedented press conferences decrying the violence that has engulfed the international financial centre and said protesters were verging on “terrorism”, which many interpret as a warning from the mainland that Chinese police or other armed forces may intervene and crack down.
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airlines said Tuesday a second pilot from the airline was suspended for “misuse of company information in violation of the company’s internal code of conduct,” the company said in a statement. The airline earlier said it had suspended a pilot who was arrested during earlier protests.
China’s civil aviation authority said it would increase the transfer capacity of airports in the Greater Bay Area to avoid disruption to trips between the mainland and Hong Kong, China Daily reported. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said it would enhance flight capacity as well as provide easier access for passengers to reschedule or cancel tickets or get refund, according to a statement.
Mainland airlines, such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, also stepped up their efforts to handle the affected passengers. The airlines said they would fully refund or help with ticket changes for the passengers affected by the cancellation of flights.