The Hindu Business Line
Hong Kong cancels all flights on Monday as thousands of protesters swarm airport
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
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.