HK airport back in business

  • ASEAN+
  • Wednesday, 14 Aug 2019

Travellers relieved: Flights resume at the Hong Kong airport in the midst of demonstrators regrouping yesterday afternoon. — AFP

Hong Kong: Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters staged a new rally at Hong Kong’s airport, a day after a massive demonstration there triggered a shutdown at the busy international travel hub.

Only a handful of protesters stayed through the night, and flights resumed at the airport early in the morning. But by afternoon, several hundred demonstrators had returned, responding to a call for a new rally.

Protesters were wearing the signature black of the movement that began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China but has morphed into a broader call for democratic freedoms.

They chanted “Stand with Hong Kong, stand for freedom, ” as passengers scrambling to catch rescheduled and delayed flights wheeled their luggage through the airport.Authorities cancelled all remaining flights into and out of the airport on Monday afternoon after thousands of protesters flooded the building.

Operations resumed early morning yesterday, but a massive backlog of cancelled flights meant many take-offs were being delayed or cancelled. And check-ins were also stalled for a few hours in the afternoon.

Travellers in Hong Kong’s airport voiced support for pro-democracy demonstrators yesterday, despite an overnight occupation of the international transit hub that saw tens of thousands of passengers stranded.

The airport, one of the busiest in the world, reopened yesterday morning but hundreds of flights remained cancelled and several hundred protesters returned for a fresh rally yesterday afternoon.

Monday’s abrupt closure came 10 weeks into a crisis that has seen millions of people take to Hong Kong’s streets in the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.

“It may affect me, but I still know what they are doing and I support them so it doesn’t matter, said 27-year-old advertising worker

Mag Mak, whose flight back home to Hong Kong from Dubai was delayed by five hours.

“I think the government is so rubbish and they don’t have any response to the protesters, ” she added.

Frank Filser, 53, was struggling to reschedule a flight back to Germany to visit his father who has terminal cancer. But he said he sympathised with the protesters despite the disruption.

“They fight for Hong Kong and that’s their view, ” he said.

“Anytime I can go back to Germany, but what about the people who grew up here? This is their home.”

Real estate worker Tibor, a long-term foreign resident of Hong Kong, was waiting at the terminal for a rescheduled flight after his journey on Monday was cancelled.

He said he understood the protests because “it’s really frustrating to live in a society where your government is not really having a dialogue with their own people”.

A wide cross-section of Hong Kong has taken to the streets in recent weeks to show their support for the pro-democracy movement and condemn the police response to protests, including rallies of elderly residents and civil servants.

But the movement has divided parts of the city, with small demonstrations in support of police and the government, and scuffles breaking out between pro-Beijing residents and protesters in some neighbourhoods.

Some passengers at the airport took a less forgiving view of the occupation.

Chinese tabloid The Global Times tweeted footage of one irate Australian passenger who confronted young demonstrators and told them to “go get a job”. — AFP

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