The Hindu Business Line

Hong Kong cancels all flights on Mon­day as thou­sands of pro­test­ers swarm air­port

- BLOOMBERG Transportation · Industries · Hong Kong · China · Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport · Macao · Beijing · Airlines · Airport Authority Hong Kong · Cathay Pacific Airways

Hong Kong air­port au­thor­i­ties can­celled re­main­ing flights on Mon­day af­ter pro­test­ers swarmed the main ter­mi­nal build­ing for the fourth day, the big­gest dis­rup­tion yet to the city’s econ­omy since demon­stra­tions be­gan in early June.

Thou­sands of black-clad pro­test­ers on Mon­day packed the ar­rival area, where they had gath­ered for a three-day sit-in that was orig­i­nally planned to end on Sun­day. The protests, ini­tially sparked by op­po­si­tion to a Bill that would al­low ex­tra­di­tions to main­land China, have be­come in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent in re­cent weeks, with demon­stra­tors tar­get­ing pub­lic transporta­tion in a bid to pres­sure the gov­ern­ment.

“It was un­clear how many flights were im­pacted,” ac­cord­ing to Doris Lai, a spokesper­son for the Hong Kong Air­port Au­thor­ity. The air­port said in an ear­lier state­ment that it was aim­ing to re­store oper­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter can­celling all flights for the rest of the day. Shares of Cathay Pa­cific Airways Ltd, Hong Kong’s main air­line, tum­bled to a 10-year low af­ter the news.

Signs of ‘ter­ror­ism’

China stepped up its rhetoric on Mon­day, say­ing pro­test­ers Pro­test­ers at the de­par­ture hall of the Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port dur­ing a demon­stra­tion on Mon­day

Grounded

have com­mit­ted se­ri­ous crimes and showed signs of ter­ror­ism.

“Hong Kong has come to a crit­i­cal junc­ture and peo­ple who care about its fu­ture should say no to vi­o­lence,” Yang Guang, a spokesman for its Hong Kong and Ma­cau Af­fairs Of­fice, told re­porters on Mon­day as pro­test­ers gath­ered at the air­port.

Tang Ping-ke­ung, Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, said that it was too early to say whether force is nec­es­sary to clear the air­port. It will be up to the Com­man­der to de­cide whether to use tear gas, he told re­porters.

Cathay Pa­cific has come un­der fire af­ter some of its em­ploy­ees joined the

demon­stra­tions. A Chi­nese state-run com­pany told em­ploy­ees not to fly Cathay Pa­cific on busi­ness or per­sonal trips, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

Pi­lot at Cathay sus­pended

China’s civil avi­a­tion au­thor­ity told Cathay Pa­cific to ban all em­ploy­ees who sup­ported or joined the re­cent protests from fly­ing to the main­land, one of the strong­est signs yet that Bei­jing is los­ing its pa­tience with the demon­stra­tions.

Cathay sus­pended a pi­lot from fly­ing who had been de­tained while par­tic­i­pat­ing in a protest, the air­line said in a state­ment. It also fired two work­ers for mis­con­duct.

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