Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters staged a new rally at Hong Kong’s airport today, blocking areas and creating fresh headaches for travelers a day after a massive demonstration there triggered a shutdown at the busy international travel hub.
Only a handful of protesters stayed through the night, and flights resumed at the airport early in the morning, but by afternoon, several hundred demonstrators had returned, responding to a call for a new rally.
The massive backlog of cancelled flights from Monday meant many take-offs were still being delayed or cancelled today, even after operations resumed. The airport’s departures page showed several cancellations well into the evening, though it was unclear whether they were related to today’s protest, or yesterday’s backlog.
Reports from the scene said entrances to security checkpoints were all but blocked, while one video showed a distraught, tearful traveler trying to navigate a shouting crowd of protesters who had blocked the way.
— Danny Lee (@JournoDannyAero) August 13, 2019
One report indicated that passengers who were not checking luggage could still access the concourse by checking in at Terminal 2.
However, it remained unclear for how long that would continue to be the case, as protesters were reportedly moving to block that entrance too.
— Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) August 13, 2019
Protesters chanted “Stand with Hong Kong, stand for freedom,” as passengers scrambling to catch rescheduled and delayed flights wheeled their luggage through the airport.
Today’s return to the airport marks the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations there after protesters descended on the hub on Friday to “educate” new arrivals about the situation in Hong Kong. Prior to Monday, however, the protests hadn’t noticeably affected travel.
Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg — who yesterday warned employees they could face disciplinary action for taking part in “illegal protests” following backlash from mainland regulators — again warned staff against participating in today’s protest, the New York Times reports.
“It is important that you do not support or participate in this protest,” Hogg said in a statement. “Again, we would be concerned about your safety if this protest becomes disorderly or violent.”