Chinese Airlines Cut Flights to Hong Kong

Hong Kong curbs airport links as protesters vow 'stress test'
AFP/File DALE de la REY

Chinese airlines are dramatically reducing, or even completely halting, flights to Hong Kong due to civil unrest on the island. Hong Kong’s airport, which has been the scene of a few demonstrations over the past five months, was once the busiest hub in Asia and one of the busiest airports in the world.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Monday that some non-Chinese airlines are scaling back flights to Hong Kong as well, including Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways, Philippine Airlines, and Jeju Air of South Korea. Mailand Chinese carriers have dropped about 100 of the 350 weekly flights they formerly offered to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) have made some changes as well in response to reduced demand and outright boycotts from mainland Chinese customers. 

HKA, which had ambitions to become a major global airline last year, announced two weeks ago that its service to Los Angeles will end in February 2020, and possibly even sooner. The company’s financial travails were cited as the reason for suspending the service. Cathay Pacific, meanwhile, described its outlook as “challenging and uncertain.”

The airlines asked Hong Kong’s government and the management of Hong Kong International Airport for financial assistance two months ago, potentially including reduced landing fees and discounts on office and lounge rental. On Monday an airline representative indicated there still has been no response to the request. 

Hong Kong’s airport authority and Transport and Housing Bureau indicated they have plans to entice more travelers to the city, restoring some of the revenue lost during the protests. The airport authority reported a 13 percent decline in passengers and 6.1 percent decline in flights during October, the worst monthly losses since protests began.

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