Airlines reduce services to Hong Kong as protests escalate

Aircraft parked at Hong Kong Airport in the rain.
The ongoing unrest is coming at a huge cost to the territory's economy Photo credit: Getty Images

Several Asian airlines have severely reduced the number of flights they are operating into Hong Kong, as the busy Christmas season approaches and anti-government protests in the city grow increasingly violent and disruptive.

The unrest, raging for almost six months, has pushed the Asian financial hub into recession for the first time in a decade.

On Sunday, Airport Authority Hong Kong reported declines in October of 13 percent in passengers and 6.1 percent in the number of inbound and outbound flights - the steepest falls since the unrest began. It said a growing proportion of travellers were using Hong Kong as a transit point rather than a destination.

Airlines reducing Hong Kong services:

  • Garuda Indonesia
  • India's SpiceJet
  • AirAsia Group
  • JejuAir
  • Jin Air 
  • Philippines Airlines
  • Cebu Air
  • Air China Ltd
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines

On Monday, Routes Online showed Garuda has reduced weekly flights from 21 to just four through mid-December. SpiceJet has suspended its Mumbai-Hong Kong route through 15 January. AirAsia has cut flights from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu in December and January.

AirAsia said passenger numbers have been lower over the past few months and it will be adjusting capacity accordingly. 

A spokeswoman for Philippine Airlines said the carrier was using smaller planes than usual for Hong Kong as passengers were postponing travel due to safety concerns.

Last week, Hong Kong's biggest carrier, Cathay Pacific, said its business outlook was "challenging and uncertain" and that it has cut capacity and delayed the delivery of four new planes.