Hong Kong Aviation Industry Still Facing Severe Turbulence as August Stats Show Declining Numbers

Hong Kong Airlines operates in a more intimate environment at HKG's Midfield Concourse. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

The Hong Kong aviation industry is still reeling from protests that have gripped the city-state all summer. The former British colony is seeing the most critical crisis in decades as according to Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan, the number of visitors fell 40 percent from last year.

The world’s eighth busiest airport in 2018, Hong Kong International Airport announced it handled six million passengers in August, a decrease of 12.4 percent year-on-year. Air traffic movement also saw a decline of 3.5 percent, passenger numbers from Southeast Asia, Taiwan and China have recorded a significant decline and cargo through the airport dropped 11.5 percent year-on-year in August.

The airport blamed the global trade uncertainties and multiple public assemblies at the airport for the declining numbers. Hong Kong International Airport’s Executive Director, Airport Operations Ng Chi-kee admitted August was “huge challenges to airport operations at times.” Last month, the airport was shut down for two days due to the protests. According to the airport, nearly a thousand flights were canceled from Aug. 9 to Aug. 13.

In the meantime, Cathay Pacific experienced severe turbulence in August. Chief Executive Officer and Chief Commercial Officer Rupert Hogg and Paul Loo, respectively, had resigned from the company and airline staff have been prohibited from attending the pro-democracy movement since August.

Earlier, the Hong Kong-based airline announced the number of passengers had decreased by 11.3 percent compared to August 2018. In response to the drastic fall, Ronald Lam, the new Chief Commercial Officer, said: “August was an incredibly challenging month, both for Cathay Pacific and for Hong Kong.”

However, the airline remains optimistic in the medium term.

With no end in sight for the social unrest, Cathay Pacific’s services between Hong Kong and Washington will cease and flights to Dublin are going to be suspended. The frequencies between Hong Kong and New York, Vancouver, Frankfurt Paris will also be reduced.

In addition, another Hong Kong-based carrier, Hong Kong Airlines has temporarily cut seven percent of passenger flights until the end of the year.

“Travel demand has declined sharply due to recurring issues in Hong Kong,” a spokeswoman for Hong Kong Airlines said.

Will Lee

Will has been a travel agent in Hong Kong for almost three decades, as time goes by he hasn't lost his passion for his job, He still has plenty of enthusiasm for the airline industry and airport operations.
Will Lee