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August 21, 2019

 
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Hong Kong International Airport Experiences Continuous Flight Disruptions


 
 

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SITUATION

Once known as one of Asia’s major transportation hubs, Hong Kong International Airport has lost its status following the cancellations of many major flights throughout the past two weeks. International flight reservations to Hong Kong have fallen by 33% between mid-July to early August following the intensified anti-government protests. Many travelers and travel agencies are increasingly opting to book flights to Shenzhen International Airport that borders the city of Hong Kong.

Between August 9 to 13, demonstrators have staged sit-ins at the Hong Kong International Airport and have forced over 1,000 flight cancellations over that span. On Monday, August 12, the U.S. Consulate issued a Demonstration Alert, stating that all flights from Hong Kong International Airport have been canceled and that passengers should leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible after pro-democracy protesters crowded into the main terminal during the afternoon hours.

Hong Kong authorities banned demonstrations at the airport shortly after the sit-ins last week and flight service has been returning to normal. However, this ban is scheduled to end on Friday, August 23, and protesters could potentially continue blocking the airport lobbies on the upcoming Saturday. Hong Kong’s real estate owners are calling for an end to demonstrations that have resulted in major losses for the local businesses and travel sectors.

As this major political crisis heads into its eleventh weekend of mass demonstrations, China has claimed that the widespread anti-government protests, even after the suspension of the extradition bill, have shown “sprouts of terrorism.” The pro-democracy protestors are now demanding greater democracy and an inquiry into police brutality during past demonstrations.

On Wednesday, August 21, a moment of silence held by protesters escalated quickly into a chaotic confrontation with the police at the Yuen Long MTR station. Protesters started the night in honor of the July 21 incident, where peaceful demonstrators, wearing black, were attacked by mobs dressed in white, usually affiliated with organized crime. The demonstrators suddenly became violent and were prepared for any police brutality. These protests will continue to delay travelers taking the train and cause further delays in traffic in the upcoming days.


Advice 

On August 14th, the U.S. State Department and many other countries have updated their official travel warnings that advise travelers to “exercise increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest.” Here are a few precautionary measures when traveling to Hong Kong:

  • Monitor the local news about any demonstrations in the area and steer clear of any signs of disorder or public gatherings to lessen the chances of being affected by incidental violence and police operations.
  • Do not travel by yourself if you’re new to the area. Having others around will be helpful in case of an emergency and maintain a low profile.
  • Do not wear white or black clothes while traveling in Hong Kong as black is representative of the Chinese territory’s movement while men in white shirts have been blamed for mob attacks against the protestors.
  • Expect major flight delays at the Hong Kong International Airport due to recent protests within the airport and allot more time for travel.
  • If traveling by train, check the status of your train before you leave the hotel.
  • If you are scheduled to travel to Hong Kong, contact your travel agency or the airline company to confirm your trip and flight status; inquire about possible cancellations and policies for rescheduling your trip or reimbursement.

 

Read our previous Assist Alerts about the Hong Kong protests for more information.

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The content of this edition of AssistAlert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace further investigation or personal observations. If you are planning travel, or are traveling in or proximate to the locations identified in this newsletter, you are encouraged to contact SecurAssist for additional information.


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