August 22, 2019
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Hong Kong airport suspends flights amid protests

 An anti-government protester in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, China, 11 August 2019. EFE/EPA/MIGUEL CANDELA

An anti-government protester in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, China, 11 August 2019. EFE/EPA/MIGUEL CANDELA

Beijing, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- Authorities in Hong Kong have canceled all remaining flights from the city's airport after thousands of protesters occupied the terminal for a fourth consecutive day.

Airport staff said the cancellations would be effective as of 4 pm local time and blamed the disruption on the large crowds of protesters who had swarmed the terminal building, impeding passengers from the check-in process.

"Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted, all flights have been canceled. All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible. Affected passengers please contact their respective airlines for flight arrangement," the airport said on its website.

Passengers who had already checked in for flights and aircraft with permission to land in the territory would go ahead but all other flights for the rest of the day would be canceled.

Footage shared on local media showed a large gathering of black-clad protesters in the airport's arrival hall.

They were staging a sit-in the transport hub to protest against alleged police brutality against demonstrators during protests over the weekend, which was marked by clashes in a metro station, where police released tear gas in a bid to disperse crowds.

The special-status Chinese territory has been gripped by weeks of protests, initially over the local government's plans to approve a controversial extradition bill whose critics said would have allowed China to seek out fugitives in Hong Kong.

The now-abandoned extradition bill has morphed into a broader anti-government movement seeking to reverse a general decline in freedoms.

Thousands of protesters made their way to the airport and buses that transported them clogged the roads outside the transport hub, according to reports from the South China Morning Post.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, declared the extradition bill dead, but it did not quell the anger of the pro-democracy protesters.

It has led to broader demands on the democratic mechanisms of the city, whose sovereignty was recovered by Beijing in 1997 with the commitment to maintain until 2047 the structures established by the British. EFE-EPA

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Related content

Cathay Pacific stocks lowest in 10 years after China bans protesting staff

Beijing, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- The shares of Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific on Monday reached their lowest value in 10 years after Beijing banned the entry into mainland China of any employee of the company who has participated in the protests in the last two months in the special autonomous region.

Around 2 pm local time, each Cathay Pacific share was worth 9.87 Hong Kong dollars ($1.26), although it had earlier in the morning plunged to HK$9.82, levels not seen since July 2009.

The performance of Cathay Pacific shares also affected its parent company, the Swire Pacific conglomerate, which tumbled 5.4 percent in the morning, reaching a new low since October 2018.

Swire Pacific controls 45 percent of Cathay Pacific, and another 22 percent belongs to Chinese airline Air China, which recorded a drop of up to 1.53 percent on Monday morning.

On Friday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said that a Cathay Pacific pilot had been formally charged with a crime of "revolt," punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for participating in unauthorized protests.

The CAAC denounced that the company had allowed the pilot to continue flying and said that such incidents severely affect aviation security.

The body also requested that the airline send a list with details of all personnel flying over Chinese airspace for review.

Not a single flight of the airline or its subsidiaries was canceled or suffered delays during the weekend.

In recent weeks, Beijing has reiterated its unwavering support for the government of Hong Kong and the local police, calling for law and order to be restored at the earliest.

Meanwhile, protesters returned to the streets of the autonomous region for the 10th weekend in a row.

The protests began in June against a controversial extradition bill but have been extended to a series of demands seeking to improve the former British colony's democratic mechanisms. EFE-EPA

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