Hong Kong Airport has cancelled all remaining flights for the second day in a row after protesters stormed the international airport’s terminals.
Increasingly violent protests have plunged the Asian financial hub into its most serious political crisis in decades, posing a challenge to the central government in Beijing.
Immigration counters were also forced to shut down after pro-democracy protesters blocked the entrance.
In a statement just after 5pm local time, flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it had been forced to suspend check-in services.
“Customers are encouraged to postpone non-essential travel from Hong Kong on Tuesday 13 August and Wednesday 14 August and should not proceed to the airport,” the airline said.
Yesterday, Cathay Pacific was forced to cancel more than 200 flights while the South China Morning Post reported up to 300 flights had been cancelled in total.
Earlier, the airport authority said it was suspending all departing flights as of 4.30pm.
“Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today,” the airport authority said.
After filling up the arrivals hall, demonstrators streamed into the departures area despite increased security measures designed to keep them out.
Pictures from the airport showed dozens of protesters lining baggage trolleys up to block departure gates this afternoon.
Travellers lucky enough to have completed their processes were allowed to operate.
Today is the second day in a row thousands of protesters disrupted one of the world’s busiest airports.
It’s the fifth consecutive day protesters have managed to block the airport’s arrival and departure halls
Over a loudspeaker, the airport authority said it did not expect arriving flights to be affected, though dozens of arriving flights were already cancelled.
Some flights were able to depart and land earlier Tuesday, a day after more than 200 flights were cancelled.
The public has been advised for days not to come to the airport.
Hong Kong has seen two months of anti-government demonstrations that have increasingly impacted day-to-day operations in the financial hub.
Protesters are calling for democratic reforms — specifically around a controversial bill that would allow extradition to mainland China — and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam earlier defended law enforcement actions after protesters prompted the airport shutdown yesterday.
Lam told reporters that dialogue would only begin when the violence stopped. She reiterated her support for the police and said they have had to make on-the-spot decisions under difficult circumstances, using “the lowest level of force.”
— With AP