Airport struggles to recover from protester blockadeLocal | 13 Aug 2019 8:41 pm
Hundreds of frustrated and sometimes angry regional and international travelers faced further delays today after most flights out of Hong Kong were canceled again, following an escalation in the sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport.
As of 5:28pm Cathay Pacific had canceled 40 regional and international flights from Hong Kong.
There was little consolation for some travelers when Air China announced more flights between Beijing and Shenzhen.
The Airport Authority of Hong Kong said in a statement that all check-in services for flights were suspended starting at 4:30pm, but flights for passengers who had already checked-in would proceed, RTHK reported. The authority also said inbound flights have not been affected so far.
"Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today,'' the authority's statement said. It said airlines would provide arrangements for passengesr who have not completed the departure process, and advised people against going to the airport.
At 4:30pm, several protesters walked in to Terminal 2 and began blocking access to to the departure hall, triggering arguments between frustrated travelers and protesters.
Airlines had already been scrambling to deal with a massive backlog from the unprecedented airport shutdown the previous day, and more than 200 flights scheduled for today had already been canceled by the morning as a result.
All flights out of Hong Kong were scrapped yesterday afternoon after thousands occupied the terminal at Chek Lap Kok.
The crowd gradually got bigger today as the day wore on. The black-shirted protesters were chanting slogans against alleged police brutality, and demanding justice for injured demonstrators.
Some held print-outs of maps depicting instances of alleged police violence against protesters; others displayed photos of bloodied protesters.
Among the slogans being chanted at the airport was “an eye for an eye” – a reference to a young woman who was allegedly hit in her right eye on Sunday by a bean-bag round fired by police in Tsim Sha Tsui.
They also appealed to passengers to “stand with Hong Kong,'' and periodically broke out into chants of “Sorry!” for the inconvenience they were causing.
While many affected passengers expressed sympathy towards the protesters, others were annoyed, directly asking the protesters whether their action was "really necessary."
"We don't actually want to do this! Sorry" came the reply.
One passenger from the United States who said his flight was affected told RTHK he was not convinced the Airport Authority really needed to ground all remaining flights for the day.
"I don’t think there’s any security issue, so I don’t know if they were delayed because the [Airport Authority] took an order to cancel everybody to make the protesters look worse than they are,'' he said.-RTHK/The Standard