Hong Kong Airport Shuts Down Amid Protests As Cathay Pacific Kowtows To China

Protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing for weeks. The protests started due to widespread backlash from new legislation that would have given China the right to extradite Hong Kong citizens without much in the way of due process. Those protests have taken over large parts of Hong Kong the past two months.  The protests started out peacefully.  As China’s rhetoric has risen, violence has grown.

Photo courtesy of seaonweb/bigstockphoto

Today those protests lead to the cancellation of hundreds of flights at Hong Kong’s airport.  The protest started out peacefully a few days ago and has continued to grow since then.  Today, images show the protest has virtually taken over the terminal.

Hundreds of flights were canceled to and from the airport, with the exception of some that were already bound for Hong Kong’s airport prior to the closure.  Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, is one of the largest in the world, consistently ranking in the top 10 of all airports based on passenger count.

Photo Courtesy of Lam Yik Fei, New York Times

Hundreds of flights were canceled to and from the airport. The only exceptions were some that were already boarded or bound for Hong Kong’s airport prior to the closure.  Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, is one of the largest in the world.  It is consistently ranked in the top 10 of all airports based on passenger count.

Cathay Pacific Kowtows To China

At the same time that protesters are taking over the airport, Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong-based airline has announced actions to appease China.  According to a New York Times article:

The Chinese government has forced Cathay Pacific Airways, a longtime emblem of Hong Kong’s proud status as a global capital, to bar staffers who support or participate in the territory’s protests from doing any work involving flights to mainland China. As part of the same demands, issued on Friday, it ordered that the airline begin submitting information about all crew members flying to — or above — the mainland to the Chinese authorities for prior approval.

There are reports from some Cathay Pacific employees that they have not been asked about the protests by their employer.

Photo courtesy of wittayayut/bigstockphoto

The Final Two Pennies

I’m really quite surprised by the news that Cathay Pacific would accede to Chinese government demands here.  Based on the New York Times article, Hong Kong is sharing crew information about a great number of their flights with China.  It’s unclear what Cathay Pacific would do if China failed to approve the crew members flying on flights to and over China.  Hong Kong is located to the south of mainland China along the South China Sea.  In theory they could fly employees involved in protests on flights to the US and beyond without much issue. I would imagine a great number of their European flights traverse Chinese airspace.

A protest large enough to shut down the 8th largest airport in the world by passenger volume is something to be reckoned with.  At the same time, the prospect of the Chinese government being able to pressure a large corporation not based in China such as Cathay Pacific may be the larger force to reckon with.  The implications of this shutdown are substantial.

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11 Comments

  1. I’m surprised by your surprise. Cathay’s capacity to exist as a going concern is but for the grace of the Chinese government. Do you really think they can flip the middle finger to the Chinese government and just go back to The Wing for some noodles and din sum?

    You are watching the last step in the elimination of the fictional “two systems, one country” farce and the consolidation of authoritarian power.

  2. I am so thrilled and happy with what’s happening in Hong kong . The people there don’t want red Chinese communist regime surpress them. They know what China has done to other people of other nations like Tibet. What they want to do to Taiwan. Freedom is not free unless you fight for it. Free Hong Kong and free Tibet!

  3. A point of clarification, as shown in the photos, the protests are currently in the publicly-accessible arrivals and departure halls of the airport, not beyond security.

  4. Cathay Pacific Kowtows to China? You sound like Lou Dobbs! What other choice does CX have?

    Afterall, Hong Kong is Chinese and it belongs to China politically, geographically, and culturally!

    1. I think people ought to have a right to self determination whether it be people in some states in the U.S. who seek freedom from Washington, Catalonia, Taiwan or Hong Kong. Hong Kong doesn’t belong to the communist Chinese government but to the Hong Kong people who have lived there for multiple generations.

      The option Hong Kong has is to say no to China and the rest of the world to boycott all Chinese goods.

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