Flights were cancelled at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on Monday (Aug 5) as protesters in the city disrupted transportation services.
More than 200 flights at the city’s airport – one of the world’s busiest – were listed as cancelled on Monday morning after aviation authorities warned passengers about potential disruptions.
Hundreds of people were stranded at the airport, Reuters reported.
“The Airport Authority advises passengers to check with their airlines for the latest flight information, and to proceed to the airport only when their seats and flight time have been confirmed,” the airport said in a statement.
The airport also said travellers should check its website and with their respective airlines for latest updates on flights.
In response to queries from CNA, HKIA said that it expects to see 35 flight cancellations before noon.
“Airport operations are largely normal this morning, while manpower is sufficient to maintain operations,” it said. “The airport will start implementing flight rescheduling at 12pm, after which the number of flight movements handled will be lowered.
The Airport Emergency Centre was also activated at 7am to coordinate operations among business partners at the airport, HKIA added.
Affected airlines include Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines, though most of the disrupted flights were with Cathay Pacific – which did not give a reason for the cancellations.
But the carrier’s flight attendants union confirmed its members were involved in the walkout.
“Over the last 50 days, the government has been ignoring the demands of the people and using only police force to try to suppress voices, causing countless Hong Kong people to despair,” the union said in a statement on its Facebook page.
The Airport Express train service was also temporarily suspended.
The flight disruptions came in the wake of a planned city-wide strike by pro-democracy protesters, who were hoping to ramp up pressure on Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leaders.
Commuters struggled to get to work in the morning rush hour, with many rail and bus services suspended, while some activists blocked trains from leaving stations.
Long lines of traffic could be seen across Hong Kong island leading into the heart of the business centre.
One person was reportedly injured in Yuen Long after a car rammed into barricades blocking the road. A video circulating online showed the car reversing before rushing the barricades, then driving away.
“VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION”: CARRIE LAM
Two months of protests and clashes with police have pushed Hong Kong to a “very dangerous situation”, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday.
“Such extensive disruptions in the name of certain demands or uncooperative movement have seriously undermined Hong Kong’s law and order and are pushing our city, the city that we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” she said.
Widespread disruptions and violence, she said, were putting Hong Kongers “in a state of great anxiety” and she vowed to continue cracking down.
“The government will be resolute in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong and restoring confidence,” she said.
CITY IN POLITICAL CRISIS
The city has been in the grip of a political crisis over the past two months as protests and clashes broke out in opposition to a planned extradition Bill, which has since been shelved.
The protests have at times shut government offices, blocked roads and disrupted business, posing the greatest political challenge to the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
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Millions of people have taken to the streets to vent anger and frustration at the city’s government, presenting the biggest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
Hong Kong tourism numbers are already falling and hotel occupancy rates are slumping as the protests take a toll, adding pressure to Hong Kong’s already struggling economy.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday: “The central government will not sit idly by and let this situation continue. We firmly believe that Hong Kong will be able to overcome the difficulties and challenges ahead.”