Hong Kong Protests Disrupt Transit to Airport, Around City

Protestors gather on a street in Hong Kong on Tuesday. // Photo by AP Photo/Kin Cheung via Newscred

Protests in Hong Kong on the occasion of China’s National Day are reportedly disrupting public transport and affecting traffic to and from the airport. 

CNN reports that the protests continued Monday night and into Tuesday, resulting in an 18-year-old man being shot and injured. Tuesday’s protests coincide with the celebration of China’s National Day, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China

According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, due to the demonstrations Airport Express services are currently only operating between Hong Kong Station and the airport, and they will not stop at any station en route. Additional access control measures are being taken at the airport’s terminals, and so visitors are advised to arrive three hours before departure. A few airlines, including Hong Kong Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines have issued travel waivers, but those waivers are for Typhoon Mitag, which is approaching Taipei and Shanghai, and not for the protests. 

In terms of public transport, some MRT stations are closed today, and trams are not operating between Central and Causeway Bay. A full list of affected routes is available at td.gov.hk

Protestors were reportedly looking to stage demonstrations during National Day, when public celebrations were planned in Hong Kong. A major event is also taking place in Beijing, with attendance by government officials from Hong Kong. 

The protests have thus far lasted for 17 weeks. They originally began over a since-withdrawn extradition bill and have since turned into a larger call for more democracy in Hong Kong, as well as criticism of tactics the police have used to combat the protestors. Preliminary research has indicated that the protests have caused a decline in demand for travel to the destination. Shortly after the protests caused a number of flight disruptions to and from Hong Kong’s airport, ForwardKeys released a report showing that short-term bookings were down by 20.2 percent for the eight-week period from June 16 to August 9 – a period that included a general strike on June 16, the siege of police headquarters, the storming of the Legislative Council building on July 1 and a city-wide strike that caused a number of flight cancellations and light rail disruptions. The report examined short-term impact only, and it was released before protests in the Hong Kong airport’s terminal buildings shut down the facility entirely. 

The airport reopened when its operating authority obtained an interim injunction to restrain the protestors from occupying the airport’s facilities. The authority also implemented new access control measures in terminal buildings, only allowing passengers with a valid air ticket or boarding pass for a flight in the next 24 hours and a valid travel document to enter. 

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