Protests in Hong Kong Causing Flight Delays

Hong Kong Airlines operates an all-Airbus fleet comprising of A320s, A330s, and A350s. The airline will soon be taking delivery of more than 20 A350s to carry out its ambitious long-haul network expansion. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

In what is seen as the biggest demonstration of its kind in Hong Kong since 1967, continued protests have worsened conditions for arriving and departing flights as the city comes to a standstill.

Protestors, who have taken to the streets to protest an extradition law imposed by China and Hong Kong’s China-backed government, have targeted key transportation links within the city such as the high-speed train many travelers use to get from the city to the airport, its subway system, and highways necessary to navigate around the islands of Hong Kong.

As of August 5, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, and HK Express have cancelled more than 150 flights in and out of the city. On August 6, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have cancelled a further 13 flights.

Multiple carriers have also joined in suspending flights in and out of Hong Kong, including AirAsia, China Airlines, EVA Air, Philippine Airlines, and Air China.

Many of the airlines have not explicitly stated that the protests are the exact reason for the delays, but have communicated to passengers that they should expect delays if they are flying in and out of Hong Kong.

Air China has cited “route reasons” for its cancellations, and Cathay Pacific has said that it “strongly recommends customers postpone non-essential travel.”

With demonstrators clogging the streets and pathways to the airports, a strike by air traffic controllers and airport employees at Hong Kong’s airport has also added to the complications.

Around 2,300 airport workers, including flight crew unions from Cathay Pacific, have joined the protests, which has reduced the runway and air space capacity by 50 percent. It is reported that Hong Kong International Airport can only have one of its two runways operational this week due to the strikes.

Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has condemned protestors for putting Hong Kong close to a “very dangerous situation.”

Airport authorities have said they would start to reschedule flights but would also be decreasing the number of departures and arrivals.

It is worth noting that while a few Asian carriers have cancelled flights, a majority of the disruptions are affecting Hong Kong-based carriers. Yet, the airport has still advised passengers to only arrive at the airport if their flights and seats are confirmed.

Akhil Dewan

An “AvGeek” for most of his life, Akhil has always been drawn to aviation. If there is an opportunity to read about an airline, fly on a new airplane, or talk to anyone about aviation, he is on it. Akhil has been on over 20 different kinds of aircraft, his favorite being the MD-80. Additionally, he has visited 5 continents and plans to knock out the remaining two (Africa and Antarctica) soon. Based in Dallas, Akhil graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Management Information Systems and currently works in consulting. His dream is to become an airline executive.
Akhil Dewan