United Airlines has suspended its service between Chicago O’Hare and Hong Kong, a spokesperson for the airline tells Travel Agent. The move is effective September 8, 2019.
United says that it will continue to serve Hong Kong from its hubs in San Francisco and the New York area Newark Liberty International Airport. Additionally, in October the airline is set to launch a second daily flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong.
United said that the move is due to “reduced demand for travel between Chicago and Hong Kong.”
While the airline did not cite the recent and ongoing protests in Hong Kong as a reason for dropping the flight, 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.