Hong Kong airport struggles to reopen amid flight cancellations

Hong Kong: The airport of Hong Kong struggled to reopen on Tuesday with more than 300 flights cancelled, a day after a pro-democracy protest brought the air transport hub to a complete standstill.

The city’s leader Carrie Lam denounced the demonstrations saying that “lawbreaking activites in the name of freedom” were damaging the rule of law, and that the Asian financial hub’s recovery from anti-government protests could take a long time.

On Tuesday morning, stranded passengers were seen lining up to catch their delayed flights, as airport authorities announced that it will implement rescheduling while blaming demonstrators for the disruption at one of the world’s busiest airports.

Passengers with luggage were being checked in for flights, and only a handful of the thousands of protesters who flooded into the airport a day earlier remained in the building.

The flight status board at the departures hall showed several flights listed as “boarding soon” with new take-off times listed for others.

However, the South China Morning Post reported that as many as 160 outbound and 150 inbound flights were already cancelled for the rest of the day on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Hong Kong, said that while authorities in the city are “used to having disruptions”, it remains to be seen when the operation at the airport will go back to normal.

“It takes time to resolve,” he said adding that protesters could descend once again at the airport later on Tuesday. 

Kerry Dickinson, a traveller from South Africa, said she doubts if she will ever fly to Hong Kong again after experiencing the delays.

“I’m trying for the third time to get out of here. So yeah, it’s a bit rough when your luggage is (on) one side and you’re (on) one side. No, it hasn’t been funny,” she told the Associated Press news agency.

Kristina Kralikova, another traveller, blamed the airline for failing to inform passengers that the flights have either been cancelled or delayed.

“My flight was after midnight and everywhere on the website it was like ‘the flight is still on’. So, I came to the airport and it was cancelled and I’m still waiting, like seven hours.”

With a short warning, airport authorities cancelled all outgoing flights on Monday afternoon, as thousands of protesters started to gather in the departure and arrival areas of the airport.

The protests, which have seen both sides adopt increasingly extreme tactics, had until Monday been mostly confined to neighbourhoods across the former British colony.

AlamulKhabar World