Demonstrations in Hong Kong that has now spilled on the streets with police firing teargas shells to disperse them has forced the national airline Cathay Pacific to cancel around 150 flights to the city this week and requesting its passenger to cut down or postpone non-essential trips. The airline asked customers to avoid flying on Monday and Tuesday of this week and also agreed to waive rebooking fees for these customers.
The share prices of Cathay Pacific fell by 4 % after the announcement on Monday. Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong’s flagship which takes around 34 million people every year to more than 200 countries across the world from its main hub. Besides Cathay Pacific there are other small airlines like Hon Kong Airlines that was forced to cancel 32 flights while United Airlines luckily did not have to carry out any such cancellations.
Monday was the fifth day of continuous protests in Hong Kong that were spread across 7 districts and demonstrations were held in transit blocks like airport and Cross Harbor Tunnel that connects Hong Kong with Kowloon. Around 2300 workers from the regions aviation industry participated in the recent protests that included 1200 staff of Cathy’s cabin crew and pilots said Confederation of Trade Unions Hong Kong. Service on Hong Kong’s Airport Express which connects city center to airport was disrupted for over an hour due to the protests.
The air space and runway capacity of Hong Kong has reduced by 50 % for other airlines too as per internal memo of Cathay Pacific. The officials manning Hong Kong airport advised passengers to visit airport only after their seats and flight timing were confirmed beforehand. Last year around 74 million passengers flew in and out of Hong Kong’s International Airport which handles nearly 1100 passenger flights and cargo flights on a daily basis due to connectivity with nearly 200 international destinations.