Flights out of Hong Kong cancelled again amid protests

HONG KONG (AP) – Protesters severely crippled operations at Hong Kong’s international airport for a second day yesterday, forcing authorities to cancel all remaining flights out of the city after demonstrators took over the terminals as part of their push for democratic reforms.

After a brief respite early yesterday during which flights were able to take off and land, the airport authority announced check-in services for departing flights were suspended as of 4.30pm. Departing flights that had completed the process would continue to operate.

It said it did not expect arriving flights to be affected, though dozens were already cancelled. The authority advised people not to come to the airport, one of the world’s busiest transport hubs.

On Monday, more than 200 flights were cancelled and the airport was effectively shut down with no flights taking off or landing.

Passengers have been forced to seek accommodation in the city while airlines struggle to find other ways to get them to their destinations.

The airport disruptions are an escalation of a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when China took over what had been a British colony.

Those doubts are fuelling the protests, which build on a previous opposition movement that shut down much of the city for seven weeks in 2014. That movement eventually fizzled out and its leaders have been jailed on public disturbance charges.

The central government in Beijing has ominously characterised the current protest movement as something approaching “terrorism” that poses an “existential threat” to the local citizenry.

Airport security personnel stand guard as travellers walk past protesters holding a sit-in rally at the departure gate of the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong. – AP