Hong Kong International Airport has announced the cancellation of all evening flights of today, August 12th 2019 citing security concerns due to protests at the airport.
All flights after 18:00h (latest departure 17:55h) have been officially cancelled and passengers are encouraged to contact their airline for alternative accommodations.
This affects both passengers that leave from Hong Kong as well as those with a connection through HKG as they will obviously misconnect with no flights available. Connecting passengers should request to be rebooked at their airport of origin and NOT proceed to fly into Hong Kong at this point.
Bloomberg has already reported details within the last hour.
Hong Kong airport authorities canceled remaining flights on Monday after protesters swarmed the main terminal building for a fourth day, the biggest disruption yet to the city’s economy since demonstrations began in early June.
“Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today,” the airport said in a statement. “All check-in service for departure flights has been suspended. Other than the departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights that are already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been canceled for the rest of today.”
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 last night. Shares of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong’s main airline, tumbled to a 10-year low after the news. The government planned a press briefing for 5:15 p.m. local time.
The situation in Hong Kong is slowly spiraling out of control. John wrote a couple days ago that the Mainland Chinese government doesn’t allow any more Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon staff on the flights that have taken part in 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.” They allegedly leaked information about the travel arrangements of a Hong Kong police soccer team, the South China Morning Post reported.
“As always our actions and responsibilities are focused on the safety and security of our operations,” the airline said.
Use of force against the protesters in Hong Kong has also escalated in recent days and appears to be fueling the current situation even more.
These will be the last departures today:
Initially the airport authorities had announced “access control measures” so passengers have to show reservation details and a passport to access the check-in area. As per late afternoon that didn’t seem to cut it anymore.
Even though the situation is more and more deteriorating, so far no governments have issued a travel warning advising their citizens not to travel to Hong Kong. Exercising caution is advised in any way.
Cathay Pacific published the following travel advisory and waivers:
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have been informed by the Hong Kong International Airport Authority that all departing flights are cancelled today, Monday 12 August, effective immediately. The cancellation period will extend until the morning of tomorrow, Tuesday 13 August. This is as a result of the public assembly taking place at Hong Kong International Airport.
Customers are therefore advised to postpone non-essential travel both today (12 August) and tomorrow (13 August) and should not proceed to the airport. Additionally, In-town Check-in services have been suspended.
With immediate effect, certain charges will be waived for tickets changes. Please view more details on our Special ticketing guideline page.
1. Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon tickets
a. Cancellation and Refund
- Waiver on cancellation and refund charges; customers should apply for the refund and the fee will be waived accordingly.
- For all tickets including non-refundable tickets.
b. Rebooking/ rerouting
Rebooking/ rerouting charges will be waived on conditions that:
- Such requests are made on/before 18 August 2019 and before departure, for travel with Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon confirmed booking arriving to and departing from Hong Kong between 12 August 2019 and 13 August 2019.
- Revised (NEW) travel date must be on/before 30 November 2019 and subject to flight availability.
In which case, the ticket expiry date will be adjusted accordingly.
- The newly rebooked sector must observe and conform to the conditions of the respective fare rule, e.g. blackout dates, flight application, weekend/weekday travel, stopover charges and applicable seasonality by collecting additional/refunding difference (if any) as appropriate.
- Reissuance charges will only be waived due to the expiry of the original ticket
- Rerouting to/from/via Cathay Pacific/ Cathay Dragon online cities
And subject to flight availability and fare/tax difference.
Passengers affected today or tomorrow should definitely get in touch with their airline to ask for other options. It might be a problem for those who have checked in their baggage early at the in town railway stations and are now struggling to get their belonging back.
Those who need to travel urgently could try their luck from Macao and take the ferry over. Those who have a Chinese visa could try Shenzhen or Guangzhou airport as well. I would expect this to calm down until tomorrow but for the foreseeable future these might be options one should keep in mind.
Airlines (especially the European ones) do have the duty of care to provide passengers with a rebooking and also accommodation until their next flight leaves. This might be difficult to obtain at the moment so passengers should secure a hotel room first and then claim the cost with the airline later.
Images like we see now from Hong Kong remind many of us on what we saw in Bangkok a couple years ago when the airport was under siege by protesters. That sped up the escalation even more. Whenever the local airport is affected in a negative way that’s usually the start of bad things to come.