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Protests cancel HK flights

Manila airlines account for 20 amid chaos

Major airlines in Manila on Monday canceled more than 20 flights to and from Hong Kong due to the ongoing protests there.

Protests cancel HK flights
ROCKED BY RALLIES. A staff member moves trolleys at the Hong Kong international airport on Monday. Hong Kong’s embattled pro-Beijing leader accused pro-democracy protesters of trying to ‘destroy’ the financial hub in a dramatic escalation of rhetoric as the hub is rocked by two months of rallies and clashes. AFP
Travel and international flights in the global financial hub were thrown into chaos Monday as activists descended on key subway stations during the morning rush hour, deliberately keeping open doors to stop trains departing, crippling multiple lines and triggering occasional scuffles.

More than 150 flights at the city’s airport—one of the world’s busiest—were also listed as canceled on Monday morning as Cathay Pacific confirmed that some members of its flight attendants union had walked out in sympathy with the protesters.

In Manila, more than 20 flights scheduled for Aug. 5 were canceled by the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) and Cathay Pacific.

“We have been advised by the Airport Authority Hong Kong that their operations are affected by the general strike today (Aug 5). Due to reduced manpower, we may have prolonged delays or cancellation of some flights between Hong Kong and Manila, Clark, Cebu or Iloilo,” CEB said in a statement.

Affected passengers will be accommodated on a later flight within the day, it added.

The airline also asked travelers to Hong Kong to allot more time to prepare for additional security measures that might be put in place or disruptions in public transport.

PAL officials said the public protests in Hong Kong caused a slowdown in airport operations. They added the affected passengers may be accommodated on available flights on Aug, 6.

“Our Hong Kong station team and the airport authorities are in regular communication. The goal is to restore normal airport operations at the soonest possible time,” PAL said in a statement.

MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal advised passengers of Hong Kong outbound and inbound flights to continuously coordinate with their airlines following the cancellation of several flights.

“The MIAA is still awaiting advice from other international carriers with routes to and from Manila and Hong Kong about the status of their flights. As of press time, only the earlier stated flights have been canceled,” Monreal said.

In the afternoon, AirAsia rescheduled a number of its flights to and from Hong Kong. The carrier advised passengers to prepare for flight delays and monitor their flight status.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned that pro-democracy protesters were close to creating “a very dangerous situation.”

The peak-hour efforts to lock down Hong Kong’s transport sector on Monday morning followed two months of unprecedented and often violent unrest, fueled by demands for greater democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

With commuters unable to get to work and international travelers facing delays, Lam held a press conference to warn protesters and signal that authorities would not buckle under the growing pressure.

“[They] have seriously undermined Hong Kong’s law and order and are pushing our city, the city that we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” Lam said.

She later referenced chants by protesters for a “revolution,” describing this as a challenge to the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong has been ruled since it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

“I dare say they are trying to destroy Hong Kong,” Lam said.

Protests cancel HK flights
HONG KONG QUEUE. Protesters stand in a defiant stance against tear gas fired by the police in Tai Po district during a general strike in Hong Kong on Monday, as simultaneous rallies are held across seven districts. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are close to creating a ‘very dangerous situation’ with the city leader warning the public as train travel and international flights in the global financial hub are thrown into chaos. AFP 
She spoke shortly after activists crippled rail and air travel.

More than 100 flights at the city’s airport were canceled. Cathay Pacific did not give a reason for the cancellations, but its flight attendants union confirmed some of its members had walked out.

“Over the last 50 days, the government has been ignoring the demands of the people and using only police force to try to suppress voices, causing countless Hong Kong people to despair,” the union said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Some key roads were also blockaded, causing traffic gridlock, as the protesters urged a general strike across the city.

The largely leaderless protest movement uses social messaging apps to coordinate.

But people from all walks of life indicated plans online to either strike or phone in sick on Monday—from civil servants and social workers to bus drivers and even employees of the city’s Disneyland.

Many shops across the city were shuttered, including fashion outlets in the central commercial district like Topshop and Zara.

Alongside the strike, protesters planned to hold rallies in seven different parts of the city on Monday.

While some commuters were angered by the disruptions, others said they supported the action.

“As long as the government doesn’t respond then for sure the movement will escalate,” a civil servant, who gave his surname as Leung, said as he tried to make his way to work.

The efforts for a general strike—a rare sight in a freewheeling finance hub where unions traditionally have little sway—is aimed at showing Beijing there is still broad public support for a protest movement that keeps hitting the streets but has so far won few concessions.

“Support for the political strike today seems strong and it’s been bolstered further by the escalating violence between the police and protesters,” political analyst Dixon Wong said.

The protests were triggered by the opposition against a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

It quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reform and a halt to eroding freedoms.

Even before Lam’s press conference, authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing had signaled a hardening stance to the protests.

The Chinese military described the unrest last week as “intolerable” and released a propaganda video showing a drill of troops quelling a protest in Hong Kong.

Dozens of protesters were also charged with rioting over the past fortnight, a charge with a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

Over the weekend, riot police fired tear gas at protesters in multiple districts throughout Saturday and Sunday night.

The past fortnight has seen a surge in violence on both sides with police repeatedly firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse increasingly hostile projectile-throwing crowds.

A group of men suspected to be linked to triads—Hong Kong’s notorious gangsters—also attacked demonstrators, putting 45 people in hospital.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal with Britain, Hong Kong has rights and liberties unseen on the Chinese mainland, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech. But many say those rights are being curtailed.

Catholic bishops on Monday urged Filipinos working in Hong Kong not to join the protests and avoid places where these were being held.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines also asked government officials to assist the Filipino who was arrested by Hong Kong police.

The groups said Filipinos went to Hong Kong “to work... to improve the lives of their loved ones, and they are observant of the laws and customs of Hong Kong.”

On Sunday, Hong Kong authorities arrested a male Filipino who was just passing by Mongkok, after he was mistaken for one of the protesters as he was wearing black.

Protests cancel HK flights
HONG KONG QUEUE. Passengers line up at the Hong Kong international airport, as simultaneous rallies are held across seven districts. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are close to creating a ‘very dangerous situation’ with the city leader warning the public as train travel and international flights in the global financial hub are thrown into chaos. AFP 
A Philippine Consular official said the Filipino was not part of the protest. With AFP, PNA and Rey Requejo

READ: More Hong Kong protests planned

READ: Tensions high as HK protesters face court over rioting charges

Topics: Hong Kong , protest , cancel , flight , Philippine Airlines , Cebu Pacific Air
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