Outbound Flights Scrapped Again Amid Protests

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2019-08-13 HKT 17:28

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  • Protesters piled in to the airport for a fifth consecutive day on Tuesday, leading to a second day of mass flight cancellations. Photo: RTHK

    Protesters piled in to the airport for a fifth consecutive day on Tuesday, leading to a second day of mass flight cancellations. Photo: RTHK

  • Protesters set up makeshift barricades from baggage carts. Photo: RTHK

    Protesters set up makeshift barricades from baggage carts. Photo: RTHK

Outbound flights from Hong Kong were again cancelled on Tuesday as thousands of anti-government protesters occupied the airport terminal.

The Airport Authority said in a statement that all check-in services for departure flights were suspended starting at 4.30pm, but flights for passengers who had already checked in would proceed as scheduled.

It also said inbound flights have not been affected so far.

"Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today", the authority's statement said.

It said airlines would provide arrangements for passengers who have not completed the departure process, and advised members of the public against going to the airport.

Airlines had already been scrambling to deal with a massive backlog from the unprecedented airport shutdown the previous day, and more than two hundred flights scheduled for Tuesday had already been cancelled by the morning as a result.

All flights out of Hong Kong were scrapped on Monday afternoon after thousands occupied the terminal at Chek Lap Kok.

On Tuesday, the crowd gradually got bigger and bigger as the day wore on, with the black-shirted protesters chanting slogans against alleged police brutality, and demanding justice for injured demonstrators.

Some held print-outs of maps depicting instances of alleged police violence against protesters; others displayed photos of bloodied protesters.

Among the slogans being chanted at the airport was “an eye for an eye” – a reference to a young woman who was allegedly hit in her right eye on Sunday by a bean-bag round fired by police in Tsim Sha Tsui.

They also appealed to passengers to “stand with Hong Kong”, and periodically broke out into chants of “Sorry!” for the inconvenience they were causing.

While many affected passengers expressed sympathy towards the protesters, others were visibly annoyed at the disruption, directly asking the protesters whether their action was "really necessary."

"We don't actually want to do this! Sorry!" came the reply.

One passenger from the United States who said his flight was affected by the mass cancellation told RTHK he wasn't convinced the Airport Authority really needed to shut down all remaining flights for the day because of the protest action.

"I don’t think there’s any security issue, so I don’t know if they were delayed because the [Airport Authority] took an order to cancel everybody to make the protesters look worse than they are", he said.

But other travellers who were affected weren’t convinced that the mass protests at the airport are warranted.

A woman trying to board her flight to Thailand told RTHK “I don’t think what they [are doing] is right, because… the police, they have to do their jobs. Probably they don’t want to fight with Hong Kong people, but they have to.”

An expatriate who identified himself as Harold went to the airport along with his wife to try to help stranded passengers find accommodations.

“We met a family from France who was completely unaware of what was all going on, and you can at least speak some words in French to them, and provide them some context”, he said.

“We do not agree completely that the departure [area] should be blocked, because a lot of people who are here just travelling cannot leave, and I think that is not fair to these people”, he added.

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Last updated: 2019-08-13 HKT 19:33