AirNZ cancels Hong Kong flights amid protests

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Air New Zealand has cancelled flights between Auckland and Hong Kong because of anti-government protests at the city's airport.

The airline said that due to the situation at the airport, NZ87 that was due to depart from Auckland for Hong Kong at 11.45 last night and was initially delayed until this morning, has now been cancelled.

"As a result, today's NZ80 service from Hong Kong to Auckland is also cancelled," a spokeswoman said. That flight was due to leave around 5pm Hong Kong time.

"Passengers will be accommodated in other services where possible.

"We are closely monitoring the situation at Hong Kong airport and at this stage plan to operate this evening's NZ87 flight from Auckland to Hong Kong."

Cathay Pacific's website says that its flight due to leave at 1.35pm today has been delayed for more than an hour.

Yesterday scores of Cathay flights were cancelled due to mass protests at the airport. Thousands of protesters thronged the departures hall, many angry at police action as the conflict escalates.

Hong Kong's demonstrations began more than two months after they were sparked by a controversial extradition bill.

Helloworld executive general manager Simon Mckearney said most airlines were delaying departures.

He said the disruption had a "sizeable" impact and staff were working with travellers now.

''Passengers need to contact their agents for advice as the airlines are working closely with us to ensure all are advised in a timely manner. As we all know the situation can change at any point and something that we are well used to.''

The protests have put travellers off Hong Kong. Flight Centre says it had seen the first noticeable drop in New Zealand-Hong Kong traffic for five years.

This July, Hong Kong was done down 25 per cent compared to the same month last year, with those passengers opting for Delhi or Hanoi as a preferred destination with those destinations up 60 per cent.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice for New Zealanders warns New Zealanders in Hong Kong to avoid all protests and demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little or no warning.

"New Zealanders are also advised to monitor local media for developments and comply with any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities."

Travellers should expect road closures and disruptions to public transport as a result of demonstrations, the ministry's SafeTravel site says.

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