HK International Airport plays catch-up after anti-government strike cancels hundreds of flights

07-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong International Airport was in recovery mode on Tuesday morning as airlines worked to send passengers to their destinations after a crippling citywide strike forced hundreds of flight cancellations.

The MTR Corporation, the city’s railway operator, also confirmed that cross-border train services resumed early on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s local airlines cancelled about 250 of 1,000 passenger flights on Monday after air traffic controllers, flight attendants, pilots and ground crew called in sick en masse in support of the anti-government strike.

Congestion was widely expected at the global transport hub, which handles an average of 200,000 travellers each day, after dozens of flights were rescheduled for Tuesday.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, which handle about 100,000 passengers a day, had to cancel 140 flights during the strike.

The Cathay group, which also owns budget carrier HK Express, advised customers against going to the airport unless their flight had been confirmed and to arrive three or four hours early because of overburdened security checkpoints.

Twelve departing flights and 37 arrivals were cancelled on Tuesday.

Hong Kong International Airport was scheduled to handle 511 departing flights on Tuesday and a similar number of arrivals a nearly full schedule. Nineteen of Monday’s cancelled flights were rescheduled for Tuesday.

Cathay Pacific and Dragon cancelled 20 services as of midday Tuesday, with HK Express delaying seven services and Hong Kong Airlines scrapping the same number.

As the largest airlines with almost control of half of the take-off and landing slots, the majority of Cathay Pacific and Dragon services were leaving on time, however, a handful of services was experiencing delays to mainly Asian destinations.

Some airlines, including the Cathay group, suspended free staff travel perks to rebook disrupted passengers on any flights with spare seats.

For travellers heading to mainland China, both the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and cross-border intercity trains were offering normal services on Tuesday morning.

On Monday morning, 10 scheduled cross-border intercity train services were cancelled, including five departing and five arriving. Services returned to normal after about 2.30pm on Monday.

There was no report of service disruption to the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, according to the MTR Corp.

On Monday, Carol Ng Man-yee, chairwoman of the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions, estimated about 350,000 people went on strike, while 290,000 attended seven rallies around the city on Monday.

Ng, a former flight attendant, said a large number of aviation personnel went on strike.

She understood that on a usual day, about 3,000 employees work at Cathay Pacific and 900 work at Cathay Dragon. She said she believed that about 1,500 Cathay Pacific staff and 500 Cathay Dragon employees did not go to work on Monday.

The strike was the latest chapter in protests that have rocked the city for more than two months. Protesters demand the full withdrawal of an unpopular extradition bill, which has already been shelved, and an independent investigation into the government’s handling of the political crisis.


Category: Hong Kong

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