Airlines cancel flights as strikes add to deteriorating Hong Kong situation

By Luke Barras-hill |

CathaymainPassengers are facing significant travel woes as transport worker strikes in Hong Kong today (5 August) stopped more than 200 flights to destinations in Asia.

Mass walkouts involving air traffic controllers piles further pressure on a city struggling to deal with consecutive weeks of pro-democracy protests against the Government’s (now suspended) extradition bill.

CATHAY AND HKA PAX IMPACTS

Cathay Pacific and sister carrier Cathay Dragon have cancelled more than 140 arrival and departure flights to and from Hong Kong today on routes such as Shanghai, Manila, Taipei, Hanoi, Phuket, Sanya, Chongqing, Chengdu, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore and Bangkok.

A statement on the airline’s website read: “Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have been informed by the Airport Authority of Hong Kong that air traffic flow control measures are being implemented on 5 August.

“As a result, many flights have been delayed or cancelled. Customers are advised to postpone non-essential travel. We strongly advise customers not to go to the airport unless they have a confirmed booking. Please note that standby travel is not available at this moment.”

Further cancellations are anticipated to occur tomorrow (Tuesday 6 August), with all customers advised to check their flight status before travelling to the airport.

“While disruption events like these can change significantly and at short notice, rest assured we are doing everything we can in advance to minimise the impact to customers,” added Cathay Pacific.

Travel-Advisory-HK

Airlines including Cathay Pacific have issued travel advisories on their websites. Source: Cathay Pacific.

“Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will continue to update the affected flights on Monday 5 August here as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) has cancelled more than 70 departures and arrivals flights to and from a variety destinations including Okinawa, Narita, Shanghai, Taipei, Bangkok, Nanjing and Tianjin.

Hong Kong Airlines says it is offering passengers the chance to change their flights dates without charge.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust our operations as required,” a statement read.

“With immediate effect, rebooking charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide (irrespective of fare type) on/before 5th August 2019 for travel with Hong Kong Airlines confirmed booking arriving to and departing from Hong Kong between 5th August 2019 and 7th August 2019. Refund charges will be waived for flights cancelled. Cancellation/Refund applies for all flights cancelled on 5th August 2019 and 6th August 2019.

“Such requests are made on/before 18th August 2019. Revised (new) travel date must be on/before 30th November 2019 and subject to flight availability. In which case, the ticket expiry date will be adjusted accordingly.”

CATALYTIC EFFECT?RMB-mainimage

In the financial sector, Hong Kong equities plunged this morning as investor sentiment was rocked by the city’s worsening political situation matched with escalating US-China trade tensions.

The Chinese Yuan tumbled through the seven-Dollar level, prompting shockwaves across global stock markets.

One well-informed industry source who spoke to TRBusiness on the condition of anonymity pointed to the ‘really bad – and sad – situation’ in the city, home to a thriving retail sector that includes DFS Group’s downtown galleria business.

“We’ve been having these anti-government protests for many years,” they said,  suggesting that pro-democracy demonstrators could eventually head for Taiwan, which has expressed sympathy for the demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Indeed, Taiwan is facing its own struggles after Beijing suspended permits for solo travellers last week, with a forecast impact on future flight bookings made by free independent travellers (FITs), according to ForwardKeys.

The Airport Authority of Hong Kong website was down at the time this report went to press, with further, official information on the changing aviation situation unavailable.

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