Sick leave action hits flights

Top News | Sophie Hui 6 Aug 2019

At least 77 flights were officially canceled due to the general strike as many airport employees took sick leave.

The Airport Authority said Hong Kong International Airport started rescheduling flights from noon yesterday to clear the backlog of passengers. Earlier, the number of canceled flights from airline websites totaled around 300.

But the authority said the number of flights handled gradually increased in the afternoon.

Until 2pm yesterday, the airport handled 465 flights while 77 were canceled.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon alone - according to their websites - had to cancel 75 flights departing from Hong Kong, while 65 flights to the city were scrapped.

At 5pm, Cathay said two flights will be canceled today, including one from Hong Kong to Fukuoka and from Hong Kong to Taipei.

China Airlines canceled seven flights from Hong Kong to Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Jakarta yesterday. Seven flights from Taiwan to Hong Kong were also canceled.

Hong Kong Airlines had a total of 44 flights to and from Hong Kong scrapped yesterday and today.

At least 2,000 aviation workers, including airport mechanical staff, ground operation members, pilots and flight attendants, and air traffic controllers reportedly took sick leave yesterday. Acting deputy director-general of civil aviation Raymond Ng Che-on admitted some staff requested to take sick leave, but that the number of canceled flights was not as high as the media reported.

It is reported that the authority gave an allowance of HK$590 to each employee who worked yesterday. Those working overtime received an additional HK$100.

Some passengers said they understood why the employees went on strike, while others found it unacceptable.

"The movement was actually caused by the government. The government has been on strike for two months, but the workers at the airport and citizens of Hong Kong are only on strike for one day. I believe most of the citizens in Hong Kong can accept this," a passenger surnamed Kwok said.

Some tourists said their travel plans had been affected and called on Hongkongers to express their demands without affecting the public.

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