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.
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.
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.
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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