Hong Kong is gradually losing its advantages one after another as the city is wracked by mass protests against the extradition bill.
That includes One Country Two Systems, the rule of law, Asia’s best police force, and the MTR. The city’s status as an international aviation hub could be the next casualty.
The airport is one of Hong Kong’s shining advantages thanks to the city’s geographic location and the large number of international routes it has built up over the years, attracting tourists and business people from mainland China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia and those en route to other parts of the world.
The airport at Chek Lap Kok resumed operations on Wednesday following an unprecedented closure on Monday and further disruptions to flights on Tuesday after thousands of anti-government protesters occupied its arrival and departure halls.
Meanwhile, Beijing is banning Cathay Pacific (00293.HK) aircrew who took part in the protests from operating flights to mainland China or flying through its airspace.
Staff at state-owned enterprises were also told not to book Cathay or Cathay Dragon flights.
There are six airports in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area blueprint outlined in February. They include Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Baoan International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, which are all considered as global aviation hubs.
Both Baoan and Baiyun airports are undergoing expansion.
Baoan Airport was given the green light in April to build a third runway, and Baiyun Airport has been building a fourth and fifth runway as well as a third terminal since December last year.
There are over 90 international flight routes going through Baiyun Airport, and over 50 international routes to and from Baoan Airport. And more are likely to be opened, considering that the risks involved are much less compared to opening up capital or information flows.
In the meantime, domestic airlines such as Air China (00753.HK, 601111.CN) and China Southern Airlines (01055.HK, 600029.CN) have the capacity to handle more international traffic.
As the Hong Kong Airport and the city’s flagship carrier stumble, these mainland rivals appear more than ready to swoosh in.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 13
Translation by Julie Zhu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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